A new local partnership has put in a bid for a redundant Council building in Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill. Under the proposals Louise House, a listed former girls’ home between the library and swimming pool, would be converted into a vibrant multi-use hub for creative, learning and cultural uses. Uses for the building could include training for young people, space for recycling schemes, serviced office space for charities and new businesses, a children’s nursery, a new home for a local theatre and possibly a cinema.
The proposed partnership is between the new Lewisham Building Preservation Trust, a local charity aiming to renew and reuse heritage buildings, Eco Computer Systems, a Lewisham-based social enterprise which already runs a number of former Lewisham Council buildings, SociaCapita Solutions, a Lewisham-based community interest company which aims to create training and employment opportunities through building refurbishment projects and Spontaneous Productions, a Sydenham-based theatre company with links to the Sydenham Arts Festival.
Louise House, which is empty and on the English Heritage’s Buildings At Risk Register, belongs to Lewisham Council, who are currently considering the bid for a 125 year lease. A decision is expected in February 2013. Speaking following the tender submission, Darren Taylor of Eco Computer Systems said, “We are looking forward to working with local people to bring new life back into this community asset. These plans will bring new opportunities for the young, for those seeking employment and training, for those with children and for the arts.” Tim Walder of Lewisham Building Preservation Trust added, “I am delighted with these plans. It will be wonderful to see the building renewed. The training, serviced office, nursery and theatre uses in this central location will all be of enormous benefit to the people of Forest Hill.”