Your New Town Hall – Why do I need to get involved?

Written by Cllr Paul McGlone

December 3, 2014
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More than 120 people have come to the residents’ meetings and open days held this month to look at the latest proposals for Your New Town Hall.

For anyone who didn’t make it, please look at the plans online at www.yournewtownhall.org or visit the exhibition in the Town Hall foyer and let us know what you think by Friday 17 January because we’re at an important stage.

In February next year we expect our developer partners, Muse, to submit a planning application that could see work start later the same year, but before this happens we want you to help make sure we’re getting the best deal for Lambeth residents.

 

 

How did we get here?

Some of you may feel the project has been around a long time –and you’ve seen a number of different proposals – whilst for others, it may be completely new.

I want to thank everyone who has come to events and shared their views so far. From the Made in Lambeth event two years’ ago to the community design activities this summer, we’ve learned from what you’ve said.

Here are just some of the ideas we’ve taken forward:

  • Testing an enterprise space through the Impact Hub in the basement of the town hall
  • Making the most of the outside space available through high quality landscaping
  • Greener buildings that are good for the environment and good for reducing the running costs

More recently we’ve been looking at the height and shape of the new residential building on the Hambrook House site to balance the need for new homes with respecting neighbouring properties. At 14 storeys the current proposed building is more slender and taller than the original proposal but shorter than the 20-storey proposal you may have seen in July.

How does it benefit me?

Saving taxpayers’ money

The Your New Town Hall project is crucially about saving the taxpayer £4.5 million per year in the running costs of our civic buildings.

We can do this by reducing the number of core buildings the council runs from 14 to just two. Moreover, these two buildings – the refurbished town hall and the new civic building – will be more energy efficient and cost effective.

We now have a track record in replacing old buildings that are expensive to maintain, like the Streatham and Clapham leisure centres, with more efficient modern buildings. We also know to consider carefully the pros and cons of refurbishing existing buildings compared with replacing them with new ones. You can see some of the work that’s gone into this as part of the Olive Morris House report here.

New homes

Around 200 new homes will be built across the YNTH sites, with 40% of these to be ‘affordable’ homes.

Whilst we know homes are needed at council rent levels, we also need homes that can be sold on the open market that can help pay for the affordable housing and the rest of the development.

Increasing the numbers of new homes also helps keep the cost of private sector housing lower for those not eligible for or able to find ‘affordable’ housing.

Jobs and training

With around 730 jobs over the four years of construction, we’ll be looking at 45 apprenticeships and at least 20% of all other positions to go to Lambeth residents. Local supply chains will also benefit from at least £29million.

We estimate around 300 new jobs will come into the borough once the buildings are complete.

Space for new enterprise and community use

The Made in Lambeth event in December 2012 envisaged a place where enterprise meets the community and saw the project as “Supporting positive start-up ventures and SMEs; helping to tackle local issues in innovative ways and grow local business”.

People suggested we started testing an enterprise space immediately, which led to the launch of the Impact Hub in May this year. Building on its success, the new Enterprise Zone will be open for community and business use.

Making the council more accessible for residents

We’ll be bringing all the council services together in a central location. The town hall and the new civic building will be designed to be more welcoming and make it easier for people to find out where they need to go and how to get there.

Better outside public space

People have said they want to make the most of the outside space available in the 2.5 hectare development site around the town hall. By using good lighting and seating, as well as planting that is attractive to wildlife, we want to create somewhere pleasant to spend time in.

What does it cost me?

The YNTH project has been designed to be self-financing. This means it can be built using the value of the land and buildings that make up the project. Yes, this does mean using some of the council’s existing assets.

Find out more about Your New Town Hall on this site and comment take part in the pre-planning consultation on YourNewTownHall.org

For background, you can also read the past cabinet reports from March 2012 and November 2013.

 

3 Thoughts on “Your New Town Hall – Why do I need to get involved?

  1. Paul Robertshaw says:

    I strongly welcome proposals that will improve and enhance the existing Town Hall and provide homes for local people.

    However, I have particular concerns about the proposed Hambrook House site redevelopment, which I believe would be extremely damaging to the local townscape and the valued heritage assets of Brixton Hill. The reduction in height of the proposed building from 20 to 14 storeys is a positive step, but it would continue to be completely out of scale with the local area and over twice the height of the existing and adjacent buildings. A 14 storey building would cause substantial harm to the Brixton Hill and Rush Common Conservation Area; substantial harm to the setting of the Brixton Conservation Area; and substantial harm to the setting of the listed Town Hall and St Matthew’s Church (NPPF paras 133 – “Where proposed deveopment will lead to substantial harm to or total loss of significance of a designated heritage asset, local authorities should refuse consent…”). The attractive and much-loved local views south up Brixton Hill, which feature the Town Hall and church towers as striking focal points and are an essential characteristic of the local area, would be irreversibly damaged. This site on Brixton Hill, within a conservation area and adjacent to another, is not the place for a tall building.

    Lambeth Council have a long and proud history of providing social and low-cost housing that harmonises with the existing townscape and provides an attractive environment on a human scale. Please learn from recent mistakes (e.g. Hambrook House on Robsart Street) that an inappropriately located tall building can cause enormous harm to a locality and significant tangible harm to nearby historic areas.

    I support the project as a whole but I object strongly to the heigt of the Hambrook House site proposal. I will continue to object at every opportunity if the proposal progresses in its current form.

    Thank you

    Paul Robertshaw
    (4 Torrens Road)

  2. Leon Kreitzman says:

    After asking at repeated consultation meetings for the financial assumptions and projections that allegedly justify the YNTH expenditure, I finally received, very ate in the day, the following breakdown for annual savings.

    I have no idea why these were not made available to citizens when the original plans were lad out, but perhaps you can explain why it took so much effort.

    Perhaps you can help make sense of the figures

    a) Presumably Lambeth Council recovers most of the money it pays in Business Rates so is the putative saving shown genuinely that amount or is there substantial double-counting?
    b) Energy efficiency is alleged to save £500,000. Is that based in electricity and gas charges of 2011 or when?

    c)Please explain the poarking savings.How is this figure arrived at.

    In fact it would be very helpful to see how all the figures were arrived at. Thus must have been done so could I please see a copy?

    YNTH forecasted annual revenue savings
    £’000
    Rents
    1,419
    Insurance
    20
    Rates
    1,637
    Security
    401
    Cleaning
    376
    Electricity
    418
    Gas
    63
    Water and Sewerage
    37
    Planned Maintenance
    48
    Reactive Maintenance
    8
    Parking
    72
    Total
    4,500

    • Anna Quigley says:

      Hi Leon, I understand you’ve been speaking directly with the project manager on this.

      I can reiterate that the £4.5m figure represents the reduction in running costs before and after the project is completed – so it covers heating, cleaning, rents, rates, etc. Out of interest we do not include in this figure the savings we anticipate from council staff working more efficiently – for example less travelling time between buildings for meetings, fewer sites for ICT and facilities management to contend with, simplified internal post, etc.

      To address your specific points below:
      a) This loss of income from business rates has been factored in to the savings estimate: For some offices we vacate (e.g. Phoenix House, Blue Start House and possibly International House) the council will no longer have to pay a rates bill and there will still be a rates income from other organisations paying rates in our place. On other sites (e.g. Hambrook House, Ivor House and Olive Morris House) the council will no longer have to pay rates but income from business rates will reduce as there is a much reduced commercial element. However, there will be an increase in council tax payments from the new homes. .
      b) The figures that underpin these estimates are based on actual costs. The saving in energy costs (gas and electricity) comes from reducing the number of offices from 14 to just 2. It follows that if there are less offices to heat and light then utilities costs will fall too. The figure was initially calculated in c2012 but is updated quarterly. Based on the last refresh the expected overall saving in energy costs has not changed materially since 2012.
      c) We currently have parking costs to third parties on many sites. Changing the quantity and location of this leads to the savings identified.
      Regards
      Future Brixton team

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