Tuesday, 23 February 2010

St Anselm's Church Project - an exciting adventure or a questionable risk?

I'm aware that I'm a month or so late with this one, but it has taken a while to get hold of the video files.  St Anselm's Church (in the heart of Kennington, SE11) offered a short consultation to local residents in January about the possibility of turning the church into a large local hub that would contain a variety of extra organisations, whilst still retaining space for the church.

I've finally obtained the videos, the first, a walkthrough of the proposed site, and the second, a kind of local commentary on the project.

The proposal is that the site would be developed so that it could contain several organisations:

1.  Into University - Organisation that works with local young people to encourage them in their studies.  It targets those who might not otherwise consider higher education or know how to access it.

2.  A restaurant and deli, to be staffed by ex-offenders, who would receive training and accommodation on the site.

3.  Small offices for local businesses that could offer basic facilities and would be hired out for an initially low rent to both those who had developed business plans from inside prison, and to local disadvantaged people who wanted to start an enterprise that could not otherwise afford the space.

4.  The Pelican Nursery - they are already on site, but their presence would complement the work being performed by the local organisations, and they offer a number of subsidised spaces.

5.  Community Hall - This would replace the Centenary Hall, which is in Cottington Street.

6.  Church - the top of the building would still contain a church, suitable for several hundred people.  Also, there would be space for a separate lady chapel and a prayer garden

7.  Accomodation - for ex offenders, ex-offender's live-in supervisor, assistant priest and caretaker

I'm generally in favour of the project.  I know there have been some mutterings about ex-offenders being accommodated on site, but actually I tend to think that the difference with this project is that there will be good supervision and training on offer as well.  I understand that it would be supervised accommodation, rather than people just left to their own devices.  I'd also hope that the into-university and young offender projects would benefit and offer a renewed lease of life to the church building.  It would certainly offer a kind of "centre" to Kennington where the community and the church could meet, with restaurant, deli etc. and there's nothing else like it around here.  Certainly, the project promises to be hugely more viable and uplifting than a more questionable unsupervised arrangement, such as the alcohol drop-in centre, currently disliked by residents on Brook Drive.

Anyhow, that's my take... But, the person that put together the video etc. has said that they would welcome comments from blog readers, and local people, so that they have information that they can feed back and further develop plans for the site...


Anonymous said...

One, I cannot view the videos - a message about it being private and needing to accept as friend?

I have seen the plans however. Generally, I think they are good. I hate to be a 'not in my backyard' type so I am hopeful that the offenders' programme will be well monitored and positive in rehabilitation.

I hate to lose the granduer of the church, but accept that it is very expensive to heat and hardly used to its full potential.

I believe the ArtsLav project is part of this. Talk about projects that have gone on for years (re: Lillian Baylis)! Hopefully this will come to pass.

Also, I believe something is lacking in tying together the Cross - perhaps there can be some matched public, creative planning to bridge the road and tie it all together. The recent painting of all the shops looks brilliant (here is hoping the other side does something similar and addresses the empty shops).

Thanks for devoting a post to this - I hope others will step forward and we can have a robust debate and get on with it - whatever it turns out to be. Otherwise down the road, throngs will come forward when the work begins and complain they were never consulted.

Anonymous said...

I am very supportive and think anything that adds to the vitality of the central area is good.

Note that some of the shops on the other side of Kennington Road are not actually boarded up it's just that behind the facades are some gardens so not all are actually commercial space.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I get the same video problem.

Exactly how many prisoners are we talking about, and what sort of supervision?

SE11 Lurker said...

Apologies. I've fixed the video problem now, I hope.

オテモヤン said...
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Sid Boggle said...

I was asked by a neighbour (who lives on Kennington Lane) about this today. She's been in the area for years, and her immediate neighbour couldn't enlighten her.

I wonder if this has been widely-enough publicised to the neighbourhood?

Anonymous said...

I hate to be a downer on this, but as someone with a newborn, and looking at the possibility of the Pelican Nursery in the future, I wonder what the outcome will be of offenders living near and working around a nursery? This is a bit of a worry to me. Do we know how the plans will incorporate both?

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