Council plans big investments in Brixton creative space

building site
The new Brixton House theatre under construction in 2019

Two Brixton enterprises are set to receive large loans or grants from Lambeth council to create workspaces as part of its creative and digital industries strategy.

The basement of the new Brixton House theatre on Coldharbour Lane would house 25 or more recording studios; 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning on Railton Road would fit out the two new storeys to be built above its current gallery space.

The Brixton House basement studios would be run by Ten87 Studios which already has a large complex in Tottenham, set up with the help of a loan from Haringey council.

A report for Lambeth councillors says Ten87 is a musical community open to all, providing “affordable, high-quality, long-term let recording studios where creators can connect and grow”.

The company plans to create between 25 and 30 affordable production studios and high-spec recording/production studios.

The council will lend it £200,000 – half the cost of the project. The other half would come from a further £200,000 loan from the Arts & Culture Impact Fund, the world’s largest impact investment fund for the arts, which is managed by the innovation agency Nesta.

The council says the project presents an “opportunity to grow an innovation-led sector in the borough” and will address a severe lack of affordable creative spaces for music in London and support a “clustered interest” around Brixton.

Brixton Village, the name used to describe both of Brixton’s covered markets by joint owner Hondo Enterprises, recently announced the opening of more studios above units in Market Row.

The proposed Brixton House complex would provide more than 10,000 square feet of workspace for recording artists, producers, songwriters, sound engineers and record labels.

Office areas would house music publishing companies, management and booking agencies.

The council said the project would support about 110 jobs and “provide significant social value” in Brixton.

It said that, when repaid, the loan would be reinvested in more creative workspace in the Brixton Creative Enterprise Zone.

urban art gallery
198 Contemporary Art & Learning on Railton Road

198 CAL acquired its Railton Road home in an asset transfer from Lambeth council and then raised £1.2m to build two new floors above its existing gallery.

Founded in 1988, its mission is to support emerging, under-represented artists and to advance public interest in visual arts.

It asked the council for a grant of just under £100,000 to fit out the new floors.

The report for councillors says the project is an opportunity to increase the amount of affordable workspace in the borough for charities and social enterprises supporting priority groups and also to create more cultural workspaces.

The new site, with up to six separate workspaces, would aim to support Black-led not-for-profit enterprises.

Another public sector group would use the space to deliver health and wellbeing services to the community.

Two other local applications are also recommended for support:

  • Office space in an unused floor of County Hall, the former home of the Greater London Council and Inner London Education Authority, part of which became a hotel after Margaret Thatcher’s government abolished the two public bodies.
  • A new site on Streatham Hill for the Artists Studio Company, a charity which has provided affordable space for artists for the past 27 years. It once had workspaces in Brixton’s Granville Arcade.

The council report says this first round of investment by its Future Workspace Fund would see a “significant return” on investment.

“For every £1 invested … we have secured just under £3 of match funding across the portfolio of projects at a total of £5.5m of match-funding,” it says.

It said the County Hall project had the potential to generate business rates income estimated at £7m over 10 years.

The report says the amount of funding in the first round is about a quarter of the amount available over the five-year life of the Future Workspace Fund.

View the council’s report