Earlier this month three developers unveiled proposals to demolish council-owned buildings around the historic town hall to consolidate office space and develop new housing.
But only a handful of people were said to have attended the unveiling on October 1, and Brixton people say they feel left out of plans they feel are being “rushed through” with no consultation.
Alan Piper, secretary of Brixton Society, said he received an email to say the unveiling of the three proposals at the Ritzy cinema on October 1 had been cancelled. When he contacted Lambeth to check this he got no response so didn’t go to the meeting.
He said: “The council must involve the community more at an early stage so they can head of problems later.
“Where there’s secrecy it tends to make people defensive. I would urge Lambeth to involve the community so they can head off problems at an early stage.”
Mr Piper claims he was invited to a private consultation event in July, but that participants were “sworn to secrecy” over which developers were involved. He added: “It was all a bit strange and Lambeth council should be more open about it all. They should have said what they had in mind.”
In response to criticism received last week, Lambeth delayed the deadline for comments on the consultation until tomorrow. Giving residents just six more days to have their say on the plans. Brixton Blog asked Lambeth council how many people had responded to the consultation last week but still awaits a response.
Cabinet member for finance Cllr Paul McGlone said last week: “Your New Town Hall is a great deal for taxpayers and businesses, saving Lambeth £4.5 million a year in running costs by cutting the number of council offices in Lambeth from 14 to 2 and giving residents and local businesses access to office and community space for the first time. The project will pay for itself and will deliver desperately needed new homes and new jobs for local people.
“Now that the three developer’s proposals are available online we want to hear what our residents and local businesses think before we make a final decision in November and we’ve extended the deadline to Thursday 17th October to make sure everyone has the chance to have their say.”
Other Brixton residents have been shocked by the speed of developments and the lack of consultation around them.
Architect Zac Monro told Brixton Blog: “It’s quite shocking. The whole scheme seems to have been pushed through far faster than planned by Future Brixton.
“These buildings belong to us, and a huge part of the Brixton community is being sold to private developers.”
He added: “I work with a lot of Brixton residents and local businesses, but none of them had heard of the scheme until I told them about it. It really is shocking. They say they haven’t agreed to this.
“As far as I know local residents groups weren’t contacted by Future Brixton.”
The Brixton Blog was not invited to the event on October 1, in a middle of the day on a weekday when many people are at work.
“It is supposed to be co-production but that’s ridiculous. The council is pushing people out of the process,” added Mr Munro.
Cllr McGlone said: “Once the council has selected a developer in November there will be further opportunities for residents to have their say about the design of this exciting development in Brixton.”
The leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Lambeth, Ashley Lumsden, said this afternoon: “I am amazed and appalled at the scale and cost of the new Town Hall that Lambeth’s Labour council wants to build.
“Lambeth already has empty offices and should be reducing our costs – not spending over £30m on swanky new offices with glazed courtyards and atriums.”
Had you heard of the plans? What do you make of the consultation? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your comment below.
Following publication of this article this afternoon, Cllr Paul McGlone said: “We have been very open about our plans for Your New Town Hall. A website has a great deal of detail about the project and resident involvement in the project.
“Once we have made a final decision in November about which of the three developers will be chosen we are committed to continuing to work closely with residents.
“Last week we also made extra time for people to have their say on the Your New Town Hall project. I would encourage as many people as possible to comment on this crucially important project.”