Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Former Lilian Baylis building to be sold to developers and grounds to become a Community Sports Facility

The rumours wot fly around the Lambeth the grapevine posited that the former Lilian Baylis School would be one of the first Lambeth Council Co-operative projects. No surprise there. However, a number of pertinent matters have arisen since I published my last article on the matter back in November.  A presentation was made at the KOV meeting on 1st November by Brian Dickens of Sports Action Zone, who was seeking a long-lease from Lambeth for SAZ activities.  

Consequently, the Old Lilian Baylis site was put on the agenda for discussion at a meeting of Lambeth Council Cabinet on 22nd November.  The Councillors were given this background paper as pre-reading.  A quick summary of the paper follows: 

* The Council proposes to work with local organisations on the Old Lilian Baylis to realise the site's vision.  Work has been progressing with North Lambeth Sports Action Zone (SAZ) and the South Bank Employer's Group (SBEG) who wish to develop the site as a sport and community facilitity.

* In order for SBEG/SAZ to gain funding, there'd need to be a transfer of ownership of former Lilian Baylis to a new development trust through a long lease.  The remainder of the former Lilian Baylis would be marketed by the council for mixed use development (to boost council funds) in Spring 2011 and would possibly provide additional community benefits

* If the SBEG/SAZ bid for funding fails, the Council will market the whole site for mixed use development, with a view to topping up the Council's coffers and/or provide additional community benefits in line with the Co-operative vision.

* The Council bears full costs/security for the former Lilian Baylis building.  This year, costs are forecasted at £482,000.  Unfortunately, only £190,000 was allocated in the budget.  This means that there has been a shortfall of a mere £292,000.  (Peanuts, really.  But, umm, I wouldn't want to be the officer that forecasted those costs.)  Apparently, work is being undertaken to reduce costs so that the shortfall is reduced to just £150,000.

* A portion of the site that would be handed over to SAZ/SBEG on a long lease is unfortunately a part of the site that would be valuable for development, and it's a bit that would reduce the income the Council could gain from the site significantly.

* The CommunityBuilders funding that would be used by SAZ/SBEG to develop the site would require that services and facilities are inclusive and open to everyone in the neighbourhood. 

The Council must be assured that the hub will deliver wide community outcomes and how it might deliver other needs on the remainder of the site.  These needs could include a new nursery/children’s centre to replace the Ethelred Nursery and Children Centre.

If the Council proceeds with the CommunityBuilders supported hub plan, it is proposed that a plan is developed in partnership with SAZ/SBEG to work with local residents etc. to refine the plans for the community hub and the development brief for the remainder of the site, along with the establishment of the development trust.

* The officers recommended that the Cabinet agree to the asset transfer of part of the site.  (Also, of note is the fact that one of the appendixes states that the Council might still seek to delist part of the site for the purposes of demolition).

So... at the Cabinet meeting on 22nd November, the Council approved the plan set out above and supported, in principle, an asset transfer if the Communitybuilders funding comes through.

After that, and shortly before I disappeared on holiday, I heard that a bit of additional behind-the-scenes last minute meeting and scuffling took place, but it clearly didn't stop the eventual planning application 10/04389/RG4 being processed, which you'll see reads as follows:
Change of use of part of the former school site to Use Class D2 (Leisure). Erection of a temporary two-storey building to provide community facilities and an office and the erection of a single storey building for use as a changing pavilion. Conversion of an existing sports pitch to provide two five-a-side football pitches, creation of athletics facilities (running straight, combined long jump, triple jump and pole vault runway with landing pit and high jump fan). The replacement of lighting to the existing floodlit tennis court, football pitch and (proposed) five-a-side football pitch, and new floodlighting to the athletics facilities. Installation of new gates between the site and the existing school building, provision of two disabled car parking spaces and cycle parking and removal of an existing tree.
As usual, you can leave comments (43 have already been submitted, which is rather curious even despite the size of the development), but in my view, the new facility sounds quite exciting.  (We all know that the "Co-operative vision" stuff has all been tagged on to the end of this plan. Obviously SAZ were involved with working on a proposed hub considerably prior to the invention of the Co-op Council, but I don't want to be all doom and gloom.)

I know that the Council still want to sell off part of the site for development, but in cash-strapped times that's understandable (if not excusable), and is mitigated by the provision of sports' facilities for the entire community, I think.  One point upon which local residents might wish to campaign is the use of the word "possibility" re. providing extra community facilities on the remainder of the "to be developed" part of the site.  Obviously, Ethelred Nursery/Children's Centre would benefit immensely from gaining a new building, and that's not a guaranteed part of the sparkly Co-Op vision, so it's probably worth lobbying for.  Thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks lurker - very helpful update.

Hopefully - finally - something positive will happen to this site.

But why do you say selling off some of the site is "understandable (if not excusable)". Not only is it excusable but sensible. The Council has site on this site for years, providing no benefit to the community, but, as your post says, at considerable expense to us all while it sits there empty. Selling off some of the site gives the chance for it to be redeveloped, while also raising some money to be reinvested in other parts of the community.

Lets hope some similar action on the Beaufort site will happen soon too.

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