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Council gives go-ahead to Walworth Town Hall restoration to save 'at risk' building

8 December 2020

Plans for a new arts and community hub, café and studio workspaces as part of the refurbishment of Walworth Town Hall and former library space have been approved by Southwark Council’s planning committee.

The Grade II listed building, which was home to the Newington Library and Cuming Museum, has been unusable since it was devastated by fire in March 2013.

The regeneration scheme, delivered by General Projects in partnership with the council, will restore the South London landmark which has been placed on the Heritage at Risk Register since the fire.

The council secured significant investment from private developers, without which the critical restoration work could not be brought forward and would have left the greatly-valued historic building at further risk of being lost.

Located in the heart of Walworth town centre, the cultural hub will feature flexible studio and work spaces ideal for start-ups and small businesses across 50,000 sq ft. The refurbishment includes a new third floor and mezzanine level within the former council chamber, and aims to draw people in from across creative industries helping to increase footfall in the historic area.

Dedicated community spaces occupying the former Newington Library will be available all year round for a variety of uses such as public events, performances, art classes and community meetings.

A new ground floor entrance onto Walworth Square will connect the town hall to the council’s brand new venue for the Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library, which together with the community centre in the town hall represents an increase in local community space since the fire.

Cycle storage and outdoor amenity spaces will be installed as well as landscaping work to the memorial garden to the front of the building along Walworth Road.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for jobs, culture and skills, said: “Our decision to approve plans for the Walworth Town Hall means we’re one step closer to bringing one of the borough’s most historic and recognisable civic buildings back into public use for current and future generations to enjoy. We recognised that maintaining public accessibility was among the local community’s top priorities and so these plans ensure a significant amount of the building, including the new café, can still be accessed by all.

“We’re delighted that creatives and start-ups from across the borough can look forward to the town hall’s new studio and work spaces with co-working memberships that will offer full access to services, including free Wifi, meeting rooms and business mentoring. We’re especially proud to offer a number of memberships at a reduced rate for Southwark residents, ensuring this new culture hub is genuinely affordable and accessible to the local community.”

Page last updated: 08 December 2020