Lewisham Council has outlined the process through which it hopes to find a suitable development partner for the listed Ladywell Baths building on Ladywell Road (also known locally as 'The Playtower'). It says:
The London Borough of Lewisham is committed to bringing Ladywell Playtower back into use through a revival of its unique historical character, maintaining the significance of its local heritage and exploring benefits to the local community. Recently this process has been met with unforeseen delays. However, through renewed political and financial support, a project programme is now underway. Please see below for programme specifics.
Stage 1: Preparing for Expression of Interests (EOIs) and Opportunity Live
The Council is running a competitive process to identify a development partner to take on the restoration and animation of Ladywell Playtower. Numerous parties have already expressed an interest, such as an independent cinema operator and mixed-used workspace providers. We are currently in the process of creating marketing materials for this opportunity. This will centre on a website, similar to that of Haggerston Baths, which will be used to provide key development information to potential partners. The EOI will go live at the beginning of January 2017.
Stage 2: EOI Submission and Round 1 Bidder Selection
The EOI submission phase will run from the beginning of January until the middle of February. It will allow potential partners to respond to the EOI criteria, outlining their vision for Ladywell Playtower, considering development feasibility and identifying local need. A round 1 shortlisting exercise will be used to feedback to both successful and unsuccessful partners, identifying those best suited to progress to the next bidding round. This round 1 bidder selection process will take place between the middle of February and beginning of March.
Stage 3: Community Consultation and Engagement
It is important to capture local community opinions and feedback on those successful bids from round 1 above. The information gathered will be provided to successful bidders progressing to stage 4, helping them to tailor their applications around local community needs and aspirations. This stage will run for the first few weeks of March.
Stage 4: Method Statement Submission and Round 2 Bidder Selection
The method statement submission phase will run from the beginning of March to the end of April. It will coincide with stage 3 above to allow potential partners enough time to develop detailed submissions. This stage will collect in-depth method statements and detailing from potential partners, scoping: development deliverability and feasibility, timescales, funding options, community and heritage value etc. This process will run from the beginning of March to the middle of April. A round 2 shortlisting exercise will evaluate submissions and provide feedback. It will culminate with the appointment of a preferred provider. This process will run from the end of April to the end of May.
Stage 5: Planning and Construction
This stage encompasses the attainment of planning consent and funding, finalising designs, construction works tendering and the commencement of building. Bringing this disused asset back to its former prowess is predicted to cost around £4/5 million, with project completion estimated to be no sooner than the summer of 2019. At least a 2 year planning and construction phase will be required.
The Council's has, over recent years, signally failed to make committed effort to safeguard the future of this building, despite the significant ongoing costs to the Council Tax payer. So the Ladywell Village Improvement Group is pleased to see that a clear process is in now place and hopes the this results in good schemes which include at least some element of community access/use. This might include a mix of some of the following - restaurant, bar, cinema, theatre, community office space, fitness/leisure facilities - though doubtless other options exist!