Alternative Site for Livesey Exchange 1

Southwark Council suggested an alternative site on Old Kent Road since the tower blocks on the Ledbury Estate has structural issues.

Following the Grenfell fire, structural issues of the tower blocks on the Ledbury Estate were discovered resulting in the Livesey Exchange project being put on hold.

To ensure the Livesey Exchange 2 becomes a reality on Old Kent Road, Southwark Council suggested an alternative site on the corner of St. Jame’s Street in close proximity to the Ledbury Estate as a location for a temporary building that can accommodate the Livesey Exchange activities.

This will allow for the project to find its feet and grow. We, the Livesey Exchange team accepted this option as the only way forward at this stage and hopes that in the future the planned workshops and communal spaces will still become part of the Ledbury Estate.

The focus of the Livesey Exchange project on skill-building and creating space for local communities to come together remains and translates into the proposed construction method and processes that allows for the participation of non experienced people into the making on-site.

The proposed range of spaces has been informed by our experience of kick-starting the Livesey Exchange in the garages of the Ledbury Estate, the demand expressed locally and the workshops that have been set up there. Spaces will be adjustable in size providing small starter units as well as space for more established businesses that can facilitate training.

A multi-functional café/bar, an adjoining roof terrace and a courtyard will provide space for people to come together formally and informally in a place focused on sharing skills. Imagined as a physical linked-in these spaces for socialising as well as learning will create opportunities for meetings, finding support and forming networks such as the Old Kent Road training program.

A feasibility study for the new site was prepared by what if: projects with the help of structural engineers Structure Workshop, business planner counterculture who assessed the financial viability of the scheme, developer Berkeley Homes who financed the site surveys, local contractor Standage who cost the project, Power Project and Nomadic People who informed workshop sizes and social enterprise Pempeople who steered the project to address local needs. The time and resources individuals and organisations have been willing to invest into this project at no cost is proof of the considerable support and momentum the Livesey Exchange has gathered since starting at the Ledbury Estate garages in September 2016.

Plans will be developed in the near future but a first model has been made to give an indication as to what might be possible.

Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “We completely support the Livesey Exchange and have been working closely with the team behind the project since the situation on the Ledbury first emerged.

“The project has been affected by the works but the team have been very understanding during a very difficult time for local people, which we thank them for. While works continue on the estate, council officers have identified another site nearby that the Exchange project can use to prevent any further delay to the project starting.”

Watch this space.

Photo credit:  Alexander Christie
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