Lambeth council accused of secrecy over ‘Town Hall campus’ plans

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 15.33.32The Brixton Society and other residents have hit out at Lambeth council for lack of consultation over plans for the Town Hall area that would radically change the image of the town centre.

Earlier this month three developers unveiled proposals to demolish council-owned buildings around the historic town hall to consolidate office space and develop new housing.

But only a handful of people were said to have attended the unveiling on October 1, and Brixton people say they feel left out of plans they feel are being “rushed through” with no consultation.

lambeth town hall plansAlan Piper, secretary of Brixton Society, said he received an email to say the unveiling of the three proposals at the Ritzy cinema on October 1 had been cancelled. When he contacted Lambeth to check this he got no response so didn’t go to the meeting.

He said: “The council must involve the community more at an early stage so they can head of problems later.

“Where there’s secrecy it tends to make people defensive. I would urge Lambeth to involve the community so they can head off problems at an early stage.”

Mr Piper claims he was invited to a private consultation event in July, but that participants were “sworn to secrecy” over which developers were involved. He added: “It was all a bit strange and Lambeth council should be more open about it all. They should have said what they had in mind.”

Plans include at least two new blocks of flats, as well as an 'enterprise centre' on Brixton Hill
Plans include at least two new blocks of flats, as well as an ‘enterprise centre’ on Brixton Hill

In response to criticism received last week, Lambeth delayed the deadline for comments on the consultation until tomorrow. Giving residents just six more days to have their say on the plans.  Brixton Blog asked Lambeth council how many people had responded to the consultation last week but still awaits a response.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Paul McGlone said last week: “Your New Town Hall is a great deal for taxpayers and businesses, saving Lambeth £4.5 million a year in running costs by cutting the number of council offices in Lambeth from 14 to 2 and giving residents and local businesses access to office and community space for the first time. The project will pay for itself and will deliver desperately needed new homes and new jobs for local people.

Cllr Paul McGlone
Cllr Paul McGlone

“Now that the three developer’s proposals are available online we want to hear what our residents and local businesses think before we make a final decision in November and we’ve extended the deadline to Thursday 17th October to make sure everyone has the chance to have their say.”

Other Brixton residents have been shocked by the speed of developments and the lack of consultation around them.

Architect Zac Monro told Brixton Blog: “It’s quite shocking. The whole scheme seems to have been pushed through far faster than planned by Future Brixton.

“These buildings belong to us, and a huge part of the Brixton community is being sold to private developers.”

He added: “I work with a lot of Brixton residents and local businesses, but none of them had heard of the scheme until I told them about it. It really is shocking. They say they haven’t agreed to this.

“As far as I know local residents groups weren’t contacted by Future Brixton.”

The Brixton Blog was not invited to the event on October 1, in a middle of the day on a weekday when many people are at work.

“It is supposed to be co-production but that’s ridiculous. The council is pushing people out of the process,” added Mr Munro.

Olive Morris House could be redeveloped as housing under the plans
Olive Morris House could be redeveloped as housing under the plans

Cllr McGlone said: “Once the council has selected a developer in November there will be further opportunities for residents to have their say about the design of this exciting development in Brixton.”

The leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Lambeth, Ashley Lumsden, said this afternoon: “I am amazed and appalled at the scale and cost of the new Town Hall that Lambeth’s Labour council wants to build.

“Lambeth already has empty offices and should be reducing our costs – not spending over £30m on swanky new offices with glazed courtyards and atriums.”

Had you heard of the plans? What do you make of the consultation? Email us on or leave your comment below.


Following publication of this article this afternoon, Cllr Paul McGlone said: “We have been very open about our plans for Your New Town Hall. A website has a great deal of detail about the project and resident involvement in the project.

“Once we have made a final decision in November about which of the three developers will be chosen we are committed to continuing to work closely with residents.

“Last week we also made extra time for people to have their say on the Your New Town Hall project. I would encourage as many people as possible to comment on this crucially important project.”


  1. When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked
    on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment.
    Is there an easy method you can remove me from that
    service? Thank you!

  2. Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the superb work!

  3. I’m seriously concerned about the proposals to redevelop Olive Morris House and the potential plans to turn the building into housing – would that be luxury flats or social housing I wonder. I plan to start a campaign from now to ensure that Olive’s memory is not erased and is suitably honoured. Please visit and post a message if you would like to offer support.

  4. Back in the 60s and 70s when Brixton was undergoing large changes, the council would then set up an exhibition of the ideas for a number of weeks/months so that people could drop in, have a look and comment. Why cannot this be done again?
    Having had a look at the online presentations, I am very underwhelmed by the proposals and not excited at all.

  5. This scheme was conceived by officers without consulting the local community.

    First I heard of it was when I saw a website aimed at seeking a developer for the scheme.

    Consultation has been limited to asking people what they would like the old Town Hall used for.

    This is not Co Production.

  6. THE BIG QUESTION: is “Your New Town Hall” a PFI like the Myatts Fields estate upgrade featuring the luxury private Oval Quarter (marketed in Hong Kong, Kula Lumpur and Singapore) ?
    If this scheme is being financed by selling off luxury flats to people who can afford prices most Lambeth residents can only dream about that is one thing.
    If the scheme is going to be a yuppy paradise and SIMULTANEOUSLY a PFI millstone round the necks of Lambeth council tax payers for the next 25 years (say) then that is much much worse.
    Can we have the truth please Councillor McGlone?

  7. Can we please just call it “the new town hall”? The whole “Your New Town Hall” thing is the worst kind of amateurish brand management crap that local councils are so often guilty of. I can only hope Cllr McGlone had the decency to look embarrassed every time he said it.

    • I agree. I’m not averse to the plans in general (very general) but find this kind of PR terribly patronising. My immediate reaction to seeing “Your Town Hall” was to think – is this what our elected councillors really think of us?

  8. This is fairly typical of Lambeth’s so-called “cooperative council” initiative: create the illusion of consulting with local residents by arranging poorly-advertised events and consulting on design details, rather than actually giving people a say in the big decisions, i.e. “should we spend millions of pounds of council tax payers money on a new development?”

Comments are closed.