Lambeth council is taking the first major step in its £4-million plan to transform the area in and around Brixton Rec.
It is seeking a partner to create a science and technology workspace using more than 1,000 square metres of currently under-used storage space on the ground and basement floors of the Rec that will have a frontage on Beehive Place off Brixton Station Road.
The intention is to support science and technology enterprise in the borough and to increase the accessibility of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers and education for local people.
The new workspace would be “a public-facing centre for STEM innovation which undertakes significant outreach and engagement”.
Through an open competition, the council is seeking proposals from organisations with relevant expertise and experience of these areas and of education. Experience of managing workspace would also be an advantage, it says.
Concepts that support science and tech related enterprise and link to the council’s strategy to support creative and cultural growth in the new Brixton Creative Enterprise Zone are sought.
Proposals should also offer a rental income to the council, which says its aims for the project are to:
- Create affordable and inclusive workspace to support new and growing STEM businesses
- Create a centre that taps into the local area’s character and expertise and supports local people
- Help young people gain knowledge and skills in STEM sectors
- Attract and nurture the talents of people from Black and minority ethnic communities
The science workspace project is one part of the council’s wider project – Regenerating Brixton’s Rec Quarter that has been developed with local businesses.
- The new science and tech workspace
- Improvements to Brixton Station Road and Beehive Place and investment in the market
- New shopfronts at the Rec’s street level, working with existing tenants
- Bringing the raised pedestrian concourse at the Rec to life with new activity in empty spaces
The council plans to spend more than £1m on initial works and would require the partner for the new workspace to secure additional funding to fit out the space to fulfil its specialist aspirations.
The council’s preference is for an operator to lease the workspace for up to 20 years and want it open to the community by March 2022.
The lease would enable the chosen operator, which would be responsible for all the operating costs, to generate income from members, sub-tenants and licensees.
The council will encourage operators to form partnerships with organisations that can offer expertise in education, outreach, and public engagement.
The selection process is expected to take three to four months. After this, the successful operator will develop detailed designs for the internal space in collaboration with the council’s architect-led design team which will lead on the outside façade.
Works must be completed by March 2022 when the Greater London Authority funding period ends.