International House in Brixton will be retained and refurbished to provide 7,800 square metres of workspace as part of Lambeth council plans for the “Rec Quarter”.
There had been concerns that International House, which was conceived and built as a single unit with Brixton Rec, including common services like heating, might be demolished in the redevelopment of its site and that of nearby Pop Brixton.
The council said International House workspace would be for local businesses and that it is committed to making at least 20 per cent of the building “affordable” workspace.
There would also be “significant improvements” to the public realm in and around the development.
The council cabinet has decided that the residential developer London Square will be its “preferred partner” for the “Growing Brixton Rec Quarter” project, which it said is intended to bring new affordable homes, workspace and jobs to central Brixton.
The Pop Brixton and International House sites stand either side of the controversial 20-storey tower development on Popes Road by the Amsterdam-registered AG Hondo Popes Road BV company, which also owns Brixton’s covered markets.
The tower is part of a planned large development fronting Popes Road and Brixton Station Road which would have almost 20,000 square metres of workspace.
While it has been approved by Lambeth council, the Mayor of London has “called in” the application. No date has yet been set for a hearing on it.
The council said the decision followed a competitive tender.
It said London Square is committed to delivering at least 240 new homes “that meet the needs of Brixton residents, including larger family homes”.
Half of these would be affordable homes “comprising 70%t at council rents and 30% as either shared ownership or London Living Rent”.
London Square was the developer of the former Megabowl/Caesar’s Palace site on Streatham High Road, which was described in estate agents’ sales publicity as a “gated oasis”.
Cllr Matthew Bennett, council deputy leader for planning, investment and new homes, said: “The appointment of London Square as our preferred development partner means we can now work together to develop proposals that both respond to the needs of local people and ensure the benefits of the development are shared by all.
“London Square shares our vision for central Brixton to deliver good quality, affordable new homes, affordable workspace, improvements to the public realm and better employment prospects for local people.”
The council said London Square has committed to providing skills and training opportunities for Brixton residents as well as ensuring 25 percent of jobs and apprenticeships are offered to people living locally.
It would begin “working with the local community” later this year “to ensure that designs and the outcomes of the development respond to the needs of local people”.
A “robust” equalities, diversity and inclusion strategy would focus on extending opportunities to local Black and minority ethnic communities, young people, women, and people with a disability.
Councillor Andrew Wilson, council cabinet member for finance and performance, said: “This project will provide hundreds of local jobs, internships and apprenticeships during the delivery phase and even more when the workspaces at International House are open for business.
“London Square will provide more than 20% affordable workspace at International House that will help nurture the next generation of businesses and cement Brixton’s place as one of the most exciting places in London to live and work.”
Adam Lawrence, chief executive of London Square, said: “We are thrilled to have been chosen to play a key role in helping to deliver a project that will see significant investment into central Brixton and more jobs and opportunities for the Brixton community.
“We look forward to working with Lambeth and residents to create well designed, affordable homes of the highest quality for local people and families, set in landscaped gardens and with improvements to the surrounding area – with a focus on creating attractive, green, public spaces.”
Pollard Thomas Edwards will be the architect for the project.
The large, long established Islington-based practice says its approach is to place people first, “understanding their needs and designing to suit”.
Kaye Stout, a partner at the practice, said: “We are delighted to be working with the people of Brixton and the London Borough of Lambeth on this vital, transformational project.
“The new Brixton Rec Quarter will set the standard in the capital, combining homes, workspace, and a new green public realm – co-designed with the local community.”