Earlier this month, the Southwark Young Advisors invited local school children to 231 Old Kent Road to discuss their plans for the space, ahead of moving in next year.
The Southwark Young Advisors (SYA) will staff the council’s regeneration and community space, 231 Old Kent Road, from next year onwards.
The idea is to activate the upper floors of the building and to keep 231 open and accessible to the public.
The SYA will manage the upper floors as a safe space for young people. It will be somewhere they can access support, mentoring and training programmes or simply use as a place to study.
The Southwark Young Advisors are a local charity made up entirely of young people (aged 15 to 24) who help community leaders to engage other young people in community life; local decision-making and improving services. The younger generation, growing up in Old Kent Road today, will be amongst the main beneficiaries from the regeneration – so it’s vital that their voices are heard loudly and clearly throughout the process.
Ahead of their move, the SYA held a special workshop with pupils from local schools to get them involved, right from the outset.
The pupils, who came from nearby schools including Walworth Academy, Globe Academy, City of London Academy and Harris Girls Academy Bermondsey, were given a guided tour of the building and heard from Cllr Johnson Situ, Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Growth, Development and Planning along with local architect, Shade Abdul who has been appointed to redesign the space.
They were asked for their input on how the space should look and how it could be used. They went on to give their thoughts on decorations, furniture and the new, external artwork proposed for the Penry Street side of the building. They also discussed the kind of programmes that the SYA would run there and how each of the rooms on the upper floors could be used.
It’s hoped that the refurbishment of 231 Old Kent Road will complement the new Walworth Living Room community space, just over the road, in Surrey Square. These two spaces could cooperate on projects and share facilities and 231 could provide a high street presence from which to promote its Walworth neighbour.
Funding for the Young Advisors has been provided by the local developers with approved building schemes in Old Kent Road. The idea is that they will move in early next year and operate the space for the next two years at least. The feedback from the workshop has now been reviewed, ahead of commencing building works in December.
Along with the Walworth Living Room and East Street library, 231 Old Kent Road is one of three new community facilities to have opened (or been refurbished and upgraded) in the Old Kent Road area since 2017. And there are plans for more to come – including a new health centre, an arts centre and acres of new green space.
Read more about the benefits of regenerating Old Kent Road