Doors open to local community at the Livesey Exchange’s new home on Old Kent Road

28 July 2023

Where an empty plot on Old Kent Road once lay stands a brand-new two-storey venue for the Livesey Exchange, the local grassroots project dedicated to unlocking opportunities for local people.

The bright and airy building at their new home, ‘LEX 2’, provides:

  • Four large hireable spaces
  • A pop-up café with a seating area
  • A commercial kitchen, and
  • A large mixed-use events space, available for all types of uses including training, meetings and community events

The council agreed a 15-year lease for the Livesey Exchange to develop and run a new space on a vacant site at 567 Old Kent Road ahead of future redevelopment. Major development in the neighbourhood is fast-growing: more than 9,500 homes have been granted detailed planning permission, more than any other project in the capital.

The first building to be constructed on the LEX 2 site has now been completed with over £1.6m of grant funding, including over £800k from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Future High Streets Fund, over £300k from Southwark Council, over £260k from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, £275k from the Stride fund and around £50k from the Livesey Exchange including crowdfunding. The building is constructed using low-carbon materials, including structural cross-laminated timber (CLT). 

Approval has now been secured for additional funding under the Future High Streets Fund to allow completion of the next phase on site, subject to grant agreement. The next phase will deliver a second building on the site containing four larger workshop spaces with facilities. It is anticipated to be completed in 2024. Overall, 40% of all workspace on the site will be let at discounted rates.

The Livesey Exchange was set up by Nicholas Okwulu of People Empowering People (‘PemPeople’). It was started with the aim of transforming the garages on the Ledbury Estate into workshops, studios, multidisciplinary spaces, skill development training, and cultural programmes. Now based at their new home, they are set to build on their success by engaging even more local people and businesses.

Cllr Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council, joined Nicholas and his team on Friday 28 July to celebrate the building being complete.

Cllr Williams said: “The Livesey Exchange 2 is a shining example of what can be done when we work together. We’re immensely proud to be investing in it as part of the renewal of Old Kent Road. I want to thank everyone involved in making it happen, particularly the trailblazing Nichloas Okwulu, as well as the many other members of the community who have played a part. LEX 2 will open up new opportunities for the whole community. I can’t wait to see it go from strength to strength.”

Nicholas Okwulu, founder of the Livesey Exchange, said: “Southwark is a diverse and vibrant community. It is for all of us to harness the strength and dynamism of this community we live, work or reside in. Whether we are residents, members of the community, council officers, organisations, institutions, architects or even developers, we all have a role to play.

“PemPeople and Livesey Exchange are proud of the community support it has received. The initial crowdfunding campaign raised over £56,000 back in 2016. Numerous other projects, such as Pempeople Pop-up Shops, Southwark Untold with Tate, Royal visit and the very popular Southwark South Design District, have spoken right to the heart of the community's needs. Together we have shown that the community is very able to deliver projects that add value to their environments and are inclusive to all.”

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London for Planning, Regeneration and Skills said: “I am delighted to see the first phase of this vital community hub take shape on the Old Kent Road.

“A better, fairer London for all is realised when communities have spaces to come together to work, learn and relax; the Livesey Exchange encapsulates this ideal, ensuring strong local roots are maintained in a rapidly developing area of our city. I am proud of the support the Mayor has been able to give this project through his Good Growth Fund, and I look forward to further developments as new buildings come into use.”

For more information or to enquire about the space, email

Page last updated: 02 August 2023

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