Funding boost for growing food, skills and businesses at Loughborough Farm
Written by Future Brixton team
January 21, 2016
Categories: Business and enterprise, Community space, Greener spaces, Jobs and training, Town Centre
Loughborough Farm will soon be growing new businesses as well as fresh fruit and veg thanks to an award of over £1.6 million from the Mayor of London’s London Regeneration Fund. Lambeth Council, who is providing the land at a peppercorn rent for 20 years, expects the project to create around 1,000sqm of employment space and already has backing from a wide range of local partners.
This secures the long-term future of Loughborough Farm community growing project, which has been developed informally by volunteers since 2013. It will continue to develop and share farming skills and bring health and well-being benefits to local residents and employees alike.
Anthea Masey, Chair of Loughborough Junction Action Group said: “We supported Lambeth’s bid to the GLA regeneration fund as it will give the Farm a long-term future. We also welcome the fact that it will provide workspace and training for over 100 local people.”
Meanwhile Space, which currently runs the nearby Platform offering space for local start-ups in 12 railway arches, is on board to help set up and support the project for the first five years. After this time, it is expected that the local community will manage it.
There is potential for studio space, co-working offices and workshops. Businesses would be encouraged to offer skills and training workshops as part of a volunteering scheme built into their tenancy agreements. In turn, tenants would benefit from business support and training provided by local organisations, the Green Man Skills Zone and Tree Shepherd.
Tree Shepherd, which helps fledgling businesses develop into sustainable companies and is behind the Co-pop container at Pop Brixton, will have a business development officer on-site to work with business tenants and residents from the adjoining estate. As many local training opportunities as possible will be created whilst the project is under construction and the local community will also be invited to help build furniture, growing beds and terraces for the farm to continue and flourish.
Tim Gingell, Chair of Loughborough Estate Tenants and Residents Association said: “This will be stimulating for the local community, providing much needed opportunities for employment. We welcome this development which will help the 30% of those living in poverty in this area as well as securing the future of the Loughborough Farm, which has been a wonderful local community initiative, and which we would like to see continue.”
Opportunities for local employment and learning new skills is central to all elements of the project, which is good news for an area that has not seen the same benefits of growth as some other areas of Lambeth. The growth rate for jobs in Loughborough Junction between 2009 and 2014 was only a third of that across Lambeth and London.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth said: “This is fantastic news for Loughborough Junction – an area that has been neglected for too long but now undoubtedly on the up. The business and employment opportunities are really exciting and I’m certain the local residents will make the most of them. It is projects and partners like these that are making Lambeth the leading borough in London for small business, enterprise and growth.”
To create more, much-needed employment space, some of the arches that define Loughborough Junction will be brought back into employment use. The Arch Recycling design and build competition, expected to launch in March 2016, will look for ideas to bring some of these back into use by building self-contained, secure structures within up to eight vacant arches.
Eddie Bridgeman, Director of Meanwhile Space said: ““The arches will form a series of follow-on spaces for graduates of The Platform and others seeking temporary space to develop ideas. From our experience operating in Loughborough Junction, it is clear that there is significant demand for space from start-ups and more established SMEs.”
The project partners include Loughborough Estate Management Board, Loughborough Estate Tenants and Residents Association, Loughborough Junction Action Group, Network Rail, the Loughborough Farm, Meanwhile Space the Green Man Skills Zone, Tree Shepard, South London Makerspace, Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group. This list is likely to grow as more community groups come on board.
For more information read the Plan for Local Employment