Brixton residents have expressed doubts about the appointment of Muse as the preferred developer of the new ‘town hall campus’ in a scheme that will see council-owned buildings replaced by office space, new housing and an enterprise centre around the existing town hall.
The appointment was made in a meeting of the council’s cabinet on November 4 but cannot be finalised until 10 days of legal standstill after the meeting.
Last month the council was criticised for the lack of consultationof the public for the three potential redevelopment plans for the town hall area.
Alan Piper, secretary of Brixton Society, said: “The good news is that this is the one developer who took the trouble to show their proposals for all of the sites in the package, so at least we know what we are likely to get.
“The bad news is that most of them are overdeveloped – the buildings tend to be too big and bulky for their sites, compared with their surroundings.”
Residents agree with him, with one calling Muse’s planned new town hall area “too big and totally lacking imagination.”
The council’s aim to adhere to the London wide target to turn 40 per cent of all new housing developments into affordable accommodation is also being questioned.
One Brixton Blog reader, Mike Marsden , said: “I can’t see how Muse will get planning consent for their designs. It’s massive overdevelopment on each site. I also think their ideas for the Town Hall are a missed opportunity. The Kajima designs show a much more radical rethink of that building, which is probably why their design for the new offices looks less dominant than the Muse design.”
Another reader, George Turner, commented: “There is just no way this scheme is going to produce 40% affordable housing. The council papers say they will ‘aspire’ to the target, it does not commit, and at this stage they should know what they can get.”
The council insists the scheme is “a good deal for Lambeth”. Cllr Paul McGlone, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “It will save at least £4.5 million a year, deliver new affordable homes as well as jobs for local people.
“It’s a smart deal too because by selling off our old and expensive office buildings we can make the development pay for itself.”