By Laurice Laird and Tim Dickens
Lambeth College’s “dated and underused” Brixton Hill campus could be knocked down and redeveloped as housing, the institution has revealed.
The complete redevelopment of the prime site, with the college campus being relocated within Brixton, is one of two options being considered by principal Mark Silverman.
Another option for the centre, described by the college as “underused, in poor condition and expensive to maintain”, would be to develop part of the site as housing while rebuilding college facilities on the remaining land.
The college has said that it has 20% more space than it needs across its three sites in Vauxhall, Clapham and Brixton, but has committed to keeping a strong presence in the centre of Brixton. It hopes to appoint a development partner by September.
Mr Silverman said: “Against a backdrop of public spending reductions, the redevelopment of our Brixton campus offers us a great opportunity to generate the necessary resources to maintain our presence in Brixton and secure the long-term future of Lambeth College as a whole.
“With the proceeds of the sale, we can build a new, fit-for-purpose facility in Brixton as well as invest further in the delivery of first-class education, learning and skills for local people across the Borough.
“This approach will meet the needs of the community, improve the quality of our offer and secure the long-term sustainability of the college.”
While he said that no provision will be lost by the development, some courses currently taught at Brixton will be moved elsewhere in the borough.
The new Brixton facility will focus on teaching employability courses, as well as maths and English as a second language.
The news comes at a time of huge physical change for central Brixton. With ambitious redevelopment plans scheduled for the Town Hall, Somerleyton Road and around the temporary ice rink on Popes Road.
Courses at the campus will continue until 2014, with any disruption after that “kept to a minimum”. A spokesman added: “A couple of years ago there were plans to develop a new college on that site. The college did a complete review of teaching and purpose in line with funding cuts. What came out of that is that the Brixton centre is underused by 20%. It’s not a sudden decision; it’s been very clearly planned out.”
Lambeth College is reeling from a cut in government funding of about £3.5million and in May announced planned redundancies of “30 to 40” staff members.
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Many years ago I fought to have a community school developed on what is now the Lambeth College Clapham site. I and others were opposed by the then ILEA, largely because various members of the Wandsworth Labour parties wanted the site for a sixth form centre for their own borough’s needs (Wandsworth Council was once Labour – that is how long ago).
I would be interested as to where the current students at the Brixton site of the college come from in % terms and likewise for the clapham site.
The chatter about other courses for those past student age is a valid area.
Why is Mark Silverman getting rid of an Educational college in the heart of Brixton. A college is the best thing for the community, I studied at Brixton college, but now have to go to clapham, where a lot of money has been spent on building works, for a spa, restaurant , gym and hairdressing salon. I want to learn English, maths and IT. Not waitress, or hairdresser.
The study, like so many others that are produced to justify cuts, was ‘gamed’ in advance to produce the result needed, allegedly, since the under-utilisation figure is a comparison with the other sites (Vauxhall / Clapham) where there are more facilites per metre squared (extra floors and less green space).
The chances of another facility being purchased / built in Brixton ? Virtually nil.
Well there is a housing deficit in London, by all accounts a very large one; that is the problem keeping prices here so high compared to much of the rest of the country. More housing makes sense. It is not fair to say – which is in effec what I am hearing in many of these comments ‘we have housing and enough supermarkets and don’t want any more’. The reeal problem of course is population explosion, and this is ever more apparent in the cities of the world, where there is a strain on housing, services, culture, identity, peace and whatnot. You can see this in evidence all over Lambeth with the huge undertakings in social housing expansion and redevelopment, aswell as the much needed private sector also. Surely it makes sense to continue to try and address this demand??
So they plan to build housing on the site?
Well, whenever someone in Torrens or Horsford roads puts in a planning application for an extra bedroom to provide space for growing young familiies in the small houses that back onto the college, they’re rejected citing ‘street under conversion pressure’.
So any development mooted for that site had better provide a wealth of parking and green space
Why don’t you just sell and move to a bigger property, instead of trying to destroy the character of these houses by building extensions.
The point is that if they’re saying the streets are under conversion stress then any proposed development must not add to this problem.
I haven’t built or applied to build an extension, but I feel for those who have children at local schools & need more space when new babies are on the way. Moving is often not an option for them even if they wanted to.
Why is the college 20% underused?
Maybe because of the complete focus on ’employability’ courses (not to mention the unbelievably rubbish registration process where you have to queue in about four different places).
There used to be a range of exciting courses for people of all ages to learn new skills or develop interests, it was a great atmosphere in there, but gradually the college has cut back on these despite them improving the lives of many people who live & work locally. Nowadays we have to trek up to Morley or the City Lit if we want to explore new directions.
A college in Brixton should attract masses of people both employed and unemployed as besides the people living here, so many people pass through as commuters. Instead of constantly cutting back & making the options more limited and feeble, how about trying to make something which blooms?
Give us a great college which provides a hub/ beating heart for the people who come here, with exciting regenerative life-enhancing courses that improve our lives.
Of course the focus should be on employability courses Lambeth still has very high youth unemployment rate.
There also a lot of other people in Lambeth & if the place is 20% underused, maybe they could cater for some of the rest of us.
Massive Waitrose supemarket comming soon.
Maybe they can fit a Little Tescos in the development
Its pleasing to note that the Council will be packing the residents in so that they can in turn shop at the myriad of chain supermarkets in the area.
Every little helps.
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