What’s going on with the old town hall site and the heritage centre next door? Everything you need to know about the consultations for the Walworth Town hall, and plan for the brand new Library and Heritage Centre developments.
Walworth Town hall and its surrounding area are getting a face-lift over the coming years. The plan is to restore the area to a community hub as it was prior to the devastating fire that destroyed much of the hall’s interior in 2013.
The fire left the building suffering significant structural and cosmetic damage which still lingers today, as well damaging the priceless Cuming Museum Collection.
Initial plans made by Southwark Council to restore the Town Hall complex were tempered by the potential of eye-watering cost for reparations, and also costs associated with meeting local needs and expectations for the town hall.
Costs for a fully revamped complex on a single site were estimated to reach up to £40m.
On 22nd January 2019, plans were confirmed to develop two sites that included a mixed-use heritage centre and public library which would stand alongside the Town Hall.
The plan now is to create two public spaces instead of just one to form a distinct community hub around the old town hall and newly developed site between Heygate street and Walworth Square.
Southwark council commissioned Lendlease and AOC Architects to handle the library and heritage centre, while the Walworth Town Hall project will be developed by General Projects and architects Feix&Merlin.
Both developers have their own schedule of community engagement and consultation opportunities. Scroll to the bottom of this article to find out how you can follow both of their progress and get involved.
Walworth Library and Heritage Centre
The new heritage centre and library will exhibit local and historical artefacts rescued from the old site, as well as hosting a rolling programme of exhibitions and educational activities to attract the local community and beyond.
It will also keep a range of books for community use, space for performances and talks, a cafe, chill-out and study areas, a kids zone, and more.
As it stands, Southwark Council has the space on long-term lease from developers Lendlease. To develop sustainable plans that deal with gaps in the community infrastructure, the council, alongside AOC Architects, are welcoming input from members of the local community to build a clearer picture of their needs.
So far, Southwark Council have conducted the Bright Ideas Consultation to gather prefatory information on the possibilities for the development.
They found that the community called for an exciting and eclectic mix of objects and artefacts for use and general observation, as well as dedicated spaces for groups and activities that spoke to a range of genders, ethnicities, races and ages.
Then, on 24th September, the Chalk and Talk open public consultation was held at the new site on 145 Walworth Road where the public were invited to walk around the undeveloped site, and offer input and opinions on the layout having now seen the space up for development.
The report on the consultation will be released in due course.
Southwark Council now want you to have your say on the designs through an additional online consultation. Dates for further consultations are yet unknown, but Southwark CAN will publish these as soon as they become available.
Walworth Town Hall
On 12th March 2019, developers General Projects were announced as the successful bidder for developing the site of the Walworth Town Hall. Renovation work will commence in the summer of 2020.
Until then, the Art Academy next door have the hall on lease from the council, and no work or public use of that space is possible in the meantime.
According to the General Projects website: ‘the new design will host a mix of educational activities, creative workshops, studio spaces, SMEs work-spaces as well as a new café, restaurant, community gallery, arts, culture and public event space.’
General Projects have agreed that they will not profit from the rental of community spaces in the new development. Profits will instead be invested back into the town hall, and in maintaining and developing the existing spaces for the benefit of Walworth’s local community.
Over the summer of 2019, they have been gathering information from various public consultations on what the space might look like. Much of the informal consultation has now been completed, but you can still have your say with their online consultation.
On 25th September, the developers held a roundtable discussion with local organisations and groups to discuss how the community spaces will be managed, and how to ensure they are a community asset. This could involve leasing out rooms in a community model similar to Southwark’s TRA halls, or other community spaces in and around the borough.
General Projects will then pursue on-street outreach with questionnaires and presentations. They will specifically target local business and wider community for their feedback.
Another consultation with local stakeholders will take place in mid-October when General Projects is expected to propose some initial design ideas, and other solutions, for criticism and feedback.
Formal consultation is expected to commence around mid-November 2019, but exact dates are still to be decided.
What can you do now?
Library and Heritage Centre
- The online consultation for the library and heritage centre is now live, and open to the public. To complete the survey, have a look at the design proposals first and develop an opinion and some feedback. Then you can begin the survey to provide feedback on how you want the new space to hold up.
- You can keep up to date with the Heritage Centre project and its progress here.
Walworth Town Hall
- Access the online consultation for the town hall here.
- You can keep up to date with the Town Hall project and its progress here.
- Exhibition development and design opportunity: Southwark Council is looking to commission an artist led community engagement process to create a temporary exhibition to open the new centre. The commission is open to experienced individuals, consultancies or consortia bids. Find out more in the Creative Brief.
- Information can be found on all of the consultations in Southwark here.
- Information on all of the developments in the Walworth and E&C area can be found here
If you want to get involved or learn more about the Walworth Town hall, Library and Heritage Centre email: