Lambeth Council announced yesterday that a charity named Diamond Way Buddhism have exchanged contracts (not completed) with The Beaufoy Trust to purchase the Beaufoy Building and the land surrounding it on Black Prince Road. Interestingly, at the KOV meeting yesterday, Diamond Way implied that they'd only recently been involved in the purchase and weren't involved in the earlier bidding process... That might be worth digging deeper on.
Lambeth Council also owned the car park surrounding the Beaufoy, and contracts on this have been exchanged with Bellway Homes with plans for a residential development.
Completion on both pieces of land will take place once planning permission has been obtained for both planned schemes. The sale of the entire site is said to have generated £9 million, of which £7.5 will be awarded to Lambeth Council and £1.5 million to the Beaufoy Trust. £200,000 has been earmarked for the local community, and the three ward councillors, with community input, will apparently be making the decisions about what the money should be spent on.
Diamond Way Buddhism plan to use the Beaufoy as a community facility, place of meditation/education (though not as a school) and residential accommodation. Ordinarily, they would run meditation sessions most evenings and sometimes debates. Diamond plan a non commercial cafe for the building. They will move in and begin work on the building and plan to open the building for tours as soon as it is safely possible.
At last night's KOV meeting, Diamond Way acknowledged that their centre would bring the total Buddhist centres in the area to three (the others are Jamyang on Renfrew Road and Kagyu Samye Dzong on Manor Place), which will make Kennington and surrounds a potential Buddhist hub. Diamond are apparently similar to Jamyang, but differ in that Diamond are a lay organisation. They've about 150 members in the UK, but are more popular abroad. As soon as the news was announced, I received an email with a link through to here asking whether Diamond Way Buddhism was a cult... Slightly worrying, but if you're concerned you can read one person's blog on the matter here and I found a somewhat wider debate over here which may not mean anything to people unless they've some idea of how Buddhism operates.
Bellway Homes plan to build 79 flats in the car park area, down from an originally proposed 89. 40% of the Bellway flats will be affordable housing, which entirely meets Lambeth's target. As per last night's KOV meeting, they're also hoping to invest in a nearby playground.
Take a look at the diagrams from last night's meeting, if you didn't manage to make it there yourself.
Please note that on the plan below, the grey building referred to as "Lilian Baylis Secondary School" is actually the Beaufoy!
The following are the plans and sketches from the Buddhist centre:
I've had lots of kind emails asking whether I've disappeared, so just to clarify... This is one of an occasional post that I hope to make on Lurking about SE11. I'm not planning to blog in the same detail that I was before, but neither am I inclined to close the blog. I've stepped back from Lurking because I feel that part of the reason that I set up the blog (to try and encourage online conversations to move offline) has not been entirely successful. I plan to remain involved in local organisations and stay in touch with some of the fantastic people I've met, but I think it's vital to spend more time offline than online and to work on the other projects.
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