Thursday, 31 May 2012

Coral refurb now imminent

Readers of this blog will know that LVIG has been campaigning long and hard to get Coomes, owners of the prominent Coral building (at 228/230 Algernon Road), to refurbish the premises and bring the flats back into use.  Nick Long, the Council's Empty Property Manager, has been doing sterling work behind the scenes and some months ago commenced enforcement action in relation to this and other Coomes properties locally.  Court action was only suspended when Coomes came forward with a planned programme of works.
Now it is clear that Coomes are delivering on their undertakings: they've already started refurbishing their property portfolio in the Borough, and in the last week Nick has been onsite at 228/230 Algernon Road with a Coomes representative who indicated that the company will now, given the level of local interest, bring forward planned work on its Ladywell building. 

This is excellent news.  We are hoping that when the works commence, Phil Spencer and The Great British Property Scandal: Revisited will return to film a piece.  We're not quite there yet but thanks to Nick and all who have been keeping up the pressure.  Let's hope this is the catalyst for further property refurbishment in central Ladywell.  LVIG still has plenty more challenges over the coming years but, for the meantime at least, this looks like being a welcome reward for its contructive partnership approach to local problems.

Robert Sheppard

Friday, 25 May 2012

Mercy Terrace go-ahead

Lewisham's Planning Committee has given the go ahead for a three-storey building on Mercy Terrace, the cul de sac that runs at the back of the parade of shops on Algernon Road and ends at the bridge over the railway line.  The building will comprise three flats, two one beds and one two bed, and a multipurpose ground floor hall that might be available for community use. The development also includes a curved stairwell and water tower, clad in zinc and topped by solar panels.  Despite the go-ahead, the Committee raised two concerns.  At the moment there is no proper provision for refuse collection on the proposed site and there are worries that the zinc cladding might prove a distraction to drivers in bright sunlight.  The development is in the Ladywell conservation area and some local people fear it will look out of place in the neighbourhood.  What do you think?  Tony M

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Slow progress on Playtower . . . but progress nevertheless!

At last night's meeting at the Misty Moon Gallery, James Jennings (Chair of the Ladywell Tower Trust*) outlined progress towards bringing the Ladywell Baths building ('The Playtower') back into use.  This, he stressed, was a long-term project!
Council and English Heritage money would shortly be spent on weatherproofing, though as much as £6m might ultimately be needed fully to restore and renovate the building.  Whilst the Heritage Lottery Fund might give part of this, other sources of funding were being explored -one option being to secure a capital reciept by selling part of the site for development.
Key elements in the overall strategy are community use and income generation as both are needed to ensure the longer-term viability of the project.
As yet the building is still in Council ownership, but all the signs suggest the Council is keen to get the building 'off its hands'.  Whether the Trust takes the building freehold or leasehold has yet to be determined.
Watch this space for updates . . .
Robert Sheppard

* The Trust is a partnership between Volunteer Centre Lewisham, Lewisham Disability Coalition, The Tabernacle and Voluntary Action Lewisham.  LVIG's very own Vice-Chair, Tony Rich, is a community trustee.