SAVING A HERITAGE ASSET - ONLINE PUBLIC CONSULTATION

The public consultation for the Walworth Town Hall refurbishment proposal has now ended.


We would like to thank everyone who visited our online public consultation. We appreciate that these are difficult times and are grateful that you have taken the time to provide valuable feedback. 


The purpose of the online public consultation was to share our plans for the redevelopment of the two buildings and to obtain feedback. Public consultation for the project was publicised through various channels in order to reach the widest audience possible, including:


  • Installation of banners and boards outside the building
  • Emails to 1,000+ people (Council and local groups have assisted with this task)
  • Flyer distribution to neighbouring residents
  • Adverts in Southwark News (both printed and online)
  • Social media – Instagram, twitter, LinkedIn


The key analytics for the public consultation were as follows:


  • Consultation Period: 20/03/2020 to 05/04/2020
  • Page views: 283
  • Presentation downloads: 36
  • Submitted feedback: 20


In general, the majority of the feedback received was supportive of our proposal. Equally, a number of responses pointed that work should commence as soon as possible as the property has been derelict for too long.


We also received some feedback raising questions and concerns on the quantum of public space provided and what use would be most appropriate for the community space.


Below is a summary of the key feedback points received along with a short response to answer and/or clarify these points:


These Council owned buildings should have been redeveloped by the Council and not a private developer.

The council explored redeveloping the buildings, however, the plans were abandoned as the service requirements within council changed and development costs were perceived as too high. Instead, they opted to run a 2-stage public bid process where over 60 proposals were submitted. General Projects were selected as the preferred bidder. 


The developer will be profiting from this project and should therefore be paying for the refurbishment works. 

General Projects will be paying for the refurbishment works as well as any future operating costs. Anticipated development costs are approximately £20m. Southwark Council will contribute £2m, these funds will specifically be allocated to the coummunity works.


The public consultation should have been postponed until the lockdown was over.

The pandemic is a very grave issue that we take very seriously. We had originally scheduled 2 drop-in dates with a public presentation prior to the lockdown, however, due to the severe risks and government guidance received, we opted for setting an online consultation rather than holding the consultation onsite. The online public consultation was publicised extensively and we reached out to a wide audience. 


Furthermore, over the past 12 months we have consulted extensively on the project with feedback obtained from over 400 people. The consultation included:


  • In person and online survey - 336 people surveyed
  • 2 drop-in events
  • 5 community roundtable meetings
  • One on one meetings with local stakeholders
  • 3 E&C developer partnership meetings
  • 3 E&C culture group meetings


Will there still be a library and museum in the building?

Both the library and the museum are being relocated in the Council’s newly proposed library and heritage centre which will be housed 200m away from the property on the Walworth Road.


Security is a concern in this area. How will this be dealt with?

The building will be secured through building staff during business hours and security personnel outside of business hours. The building will also have CCTV installed throughout.


The community must have free access to the public spaces.

The new community centre will be overseen by a board consisting of community members, the council and the developer and will be operated by a not-for-profit organisation selected by an open process. The operational logistics of this still needs to be refined, which will be done through continuous community meetings in conjunction with Southwark Council, however, the community centre will be provided on a rent free to access basis to everyone in the community.

The café and lobby will be open to the public and free to access during regular business hours.


It seems like the public spaces are targeted for the youth only.

Walworth is a diverse community and discrimination has no place in our project. The Walworth Town Hall will welcome everyone. The new community space is intended to hold a wide variety programs and events that will cater to people of all ages. Some of the key programs we expect the community space to host among many others include:


  • Mental Health Awareness Support
  • Crime prevention and training classes
  • Mentorship programmes
  • Arts classes
  • After school activities
  • Theatre and music nights
  • Dance classes
  • Yoga classes
  • Community meetings
  • Cultural exhibitions
  • The Walworth Heritage Festival
  • Cultural and educational panels


The community space will also include an attended welcome room with a tea point for the community to enjoy.


The onsite café should be contracted to a local independent business and should serve healthy alternatives

It is our intention to hire a local independent operator to run the café within the lobby space. A selection of healthy offerings will be offered on the menu.


The façade should be restored and not altered.

Our approach is to salvage as much as possible and to celebrate the existing architectural features. As part of this we will be restoring the existing façade and reinstating the original roof line. The only key intervention to the façade that we are proposing is a grand entrance to Walworth Square. We feel that this new entrance is critical for connecting the two buildings through its new public areas and to open it up to the new public square. 


The public space should be used for more useful purposes to the community, such as events space, bar, and more.

The intention is for the new community rooms to provide a wide possibility of uses such as events, art installations, theatre and music space, among many others. We feel that providing a wide array of uses will provide the most useful purpose to the community.


A wellness hub and quiet space would be welcomed in the community space.

A quiet and welcome space has been incorporated in our design for the community space. Inclusion of a wellness could be explored with the future community centre board and the selected operator once set up.


The quantum of public space is too low and should be more equally balanced with the workspace offering.

The redevelopment of the property is a costly endeavour and in order to fund the works it is assumed that the developer must generate income on the remaining areas. The current proposal retains public access to 50% of the ground floor. Additional access to other areas of the building will be provided on occasions through the form of events and open houses. 


It is also important to note that the two buildings have never been fully accessible to the public as a large amount of the spaces were used as offices, and storage space.


The creative workspaces will not be of any use to the local residents.

We believe that a number of local residents will see a benefit to the creative workspaces and be interested in establishing their businesses in the town hall. Furthermore, these new creative workspaces will bring approximately 370 jobs to the area which will contribute to the local economy.


The first floor would be better suited for free community use.

Providing the community space on the ground floor gives the new facility visibility with its own entrance, a strong high street presence and ease of access in one of the traditionally publically open areas in the building. As mentioned previously, the redevelopment of the property is a costly endeavour and in order to fund the works the developer must generate a return on the remaining areas. Public access to the first floor will be provided on occasions through the form of events and open houses, which are anticipated to take place throughout the year.


The building should be accessible for people with disabilities.

All public areas will be fully DDA accessible and compliant. 


Can the bookshelves in the mezzanine of the community centre be used as a library?

These bookshelves will be used as decorative purpose to display art work or books but unfortunately that area is not compliant with building regulations and will therefore not be accessible to the public.


How can you ensure that the creative workspaces are genuinely affordable to the local residents?

Certain workspace areas will be operated as an open space co-working where individuals will have the opportunity to purchase daily, weekly, monthly or annual passes. Furthermore, the café/lobby area will remain accessible to the public and will offer plenty of seating with open wifi access.


The sensitive and light-touch restoration approach is welcomed.

Our intention was always to restore this beautiful and iconic building back to life. We want to celebrate its architecture rather altering it.


The proposed new community library and heritage centre in the Elephant Park scheme seems confined. Overflow from these should be provided in the Walworth Town Hall proposal. Furthermore, space for the Cuming Collection and the Southwark Art Collection should be allocated on site.

The Cuming Collection and Southwark Art collections are owned by the Council and will be included in displays and exhibitions only a short walk from the Walworth Town Hall. Preliminary discussions have been held with Southwark Council regarding the possibility of artefacts from the Cuming Collection being displayed within the Town Hall. General Projects is supportive of this idea, and detailed discussions will be progressed in the coming months to try and secure this opportunity. 


Is the café really necessary in the building?

The café is necessary as it acts as the heart of the building. It will retain public access during business hours and it is envisaged that it become the meeting point for workspace users and the public.


Can the development works commence as soon as possible?

Our wish is to proceed with the redevelopment as quickly as possible but before we can start with the works we will need to obtain a planning permission along with listed building consent. It is our intention to submit the applications in May in order for works to start on site in November.

A PDF version of boards is available for download. The PDF document should allow you zoom into sections in case you find it difficult to read from the visuals above.

Public Presentation Video