One of south London’s most popular galleries has seen its plans for the site it has occupied since 2008 rejected by Southwark Council.
Titled Bold Home, the project by Bold Tendencies and cultural venue Second Home would have resulted in 800 new affordable artists’ studios at the site in the upper levels of a disused multi-storey car park in Peckham.
With monthly rent of £100, the cheap spaces had been designed and overseen by award-winning Spanish architecture practice SelgasCano, creators of the 2015 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in Hyde Park.
Despite backing from a number of high-profile names, including Serpentine Gallery co-directors Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Tate Modern’s outgoing director Chris Dercon, the plans have been rejected in favour of a rival application by Pop Community Ltd.
The winning bid (pictured above) will offer 50 artists’ studios alongside multi-use event spaces, pop-up retail and a café.
The development is a partnership between Carl Turner Architects and property developers The Collective. They claim the development will create 600 new jobs on site, with all tenants being independent businesses drawn primarily from the local area.
Bold Tendencies and rooftop bar Frank’s Café will continue to operate from the upper floors of the car park, while the popular Peckham Plex cinema will remain on the lower levels, with the new plans transforming the intermediate levels.
James Leay, managing director of Pop Community Ltd, said: “We look forward to working closely with our neighbours in the car park, and hope to contribute to the incredible reputation they have built for championing the arts.”
Despite the council’s assurance that they want Bold Tendencies to remain in the car park, in a statement released after Southwark reached its decision, director Hannah Barry and Second Home’s Rohan Silva both told the Guardian it made the future of the art hub much more precarious.
Silva said: “It’s really depressing … you would have thought that Southwark council would want to support this kind of initiative, but sadly that’s not the case.”
Explaining its decision, a spokesperson for Southwark Council said: “We felt generally that Bold Home didn’t quite fit into the vision we had for the space, as a place that could be used by the people of Peckham.
“The whole point of this interim project was so we could create a lot more mixed and open spaces in Peckham car park that can be used by the community, and the plans submitted by Bold Home would have made it more into the style of an office block. The car park is a public space and we didn’t just want it to become just a closed artist commune.”
The news comes despite a recent warning by Munira Mirza, London’s deputy mayor for education and culture, that the city needs to do more to protect its status as a ‘magnet for artists’. She claimed London could ‘lose a third of all artists’ studios in the city in the next five years.’
In addition, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called on developers, planners, local authorities and others responsible for the planning and design of the capital to put culture and creativity at the forefront of their thinking about developments in the city.
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