Plan to turn Peckham car park into London's largest group of art studios rejected

Southwark Council chose a rival proposal over Rohan Silva and Hannah Berry's Bold Home plan to create 800 art studios

Nick Clark
Arts Correspondent
Friday 06 November 2015 23:21 GMT
The multi-storey car park has hosted classical music performances
The multi-storey car park has hosted classical music performances (Getty)

In a blow for artists seeking affordable studio space, a plan to convert a multi-storey car park into the largest group of art studios in the capital, has been rejected.

Southwark Council announced it had chosen the rival proposal by Pop Community, which opened a “community campus” in Brixton this year, for the Peckham car park.

It rejected the Bold Home plan to create 800 art studios by Rohan Silva, a former adviser to David Cameron, and Hannah Barry, whose arts organisation Bold Tendencies puts on exhibitions and performances in the car park.

The decision came despite support from culture minister Ed Vaizey and high profile figures from the art world including Chris Dercon, the outgoing head of Tate Modern and Gregor Muir, executive director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Mr Silva said: “It’s frustrating and it’s a real shame. You understand in these moments why artist studios are disappearing so fast. It’s micro decisions by councils that add up.”

Mr Silva, who runs collaborative workspace group Second Home with business partner Sam Aldenton, added: “I think it’s a dark day for arts in London” but added he would seek to take the proposal to a council “that has a more enlightened attitude”.

The council said: “We felt their proposals weren’t right for what we wanted for this particular space.”

The winning project will put in shops, cafes and event spaces as well as areas for workshops, meetings and about 50 artist studios and workshop spaces. The council continues to own the building which is earmarked for redevelopment in the long run.

The Mayor of London launched a consultation into the alarming trend of disappearing artist studio space in February last year, as revealed by The Independent.

Thousands of artists are on waiting lists for studios, after many have been driven out by rising rents and redevelopment. “They are getting down to critically endangered now,” Mr Silva said.

A report by the Mayor’s office has revealed that London could lose 3,500 artist studios in the next five years, a third of creative workspaces in the capital. Mayor of London Boris Johnson last month called on developers to include cultural spaces and studios in their schemes in the city.

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