Saturday 11 June 2011

Faircharm estate regeneration plans

The days of cheap studios and rehearsal space for artists and musicians on the Faircharm Estate, Creekside look to be numbered, with the estate's owner Workspace Group about to launch plans to redevelop the site.

While Workspace says its redevelopment will provide new galleries and studios for local artists and crafters, the cheap and cheerful space offered in the old buildings that currently grace the site will disappear to make room for new development, which will include new residential units.

Despite not having any details of these proposals yet, I have to admit that this initial announcement rather dismays me; this part of Creekside has really come into its own in the last couple of years. While some businesses such as Creekside Studios have been housed on the estate for more than two decades, the creation of the Creekside Artists collective and the launch of the Faircharm Fair last christmas signalled that the estate was really coming into its own.

The Faircharm Fair was a very welcome indication that what had previously been a low-key collection of businesses, studio spaces and light industrial use was finding an identity of its own. Creekside Cafe is a great addition to Deptford's cafe scene with its pleasant ambience and tasty food, and similarly has created a focus for the estate's tenants and local residents alike. And the recent sprucing up of the estate added some visual relief and humour to what are essentially underwhelming sheds. But I wonder what will happen to the businesses and artists who currently benefit from the cheap space, and who contribute to making Creekside such a creative quarter?

With much of the rest of Creekside being exploited for housing it is inevitable that the landowner should want to jump on the bandwagon and make some money out of its waterside location - but with this land previously designated for employment use, any proposal to build residential units here would have been strongly resisted.

It seems that the ongoing softening of planning policies as the old unitary development plans are replaced by local development frameworks is seeing this type of land being converted to mixed use designation. This basically means that as long as you have some offices and business use on the site, you can build housing too.

Architect Karakusevic Carson has been appointed to design this 'major arts and workspace building combined with mixed tenure housing to complement the Deptford Creek creative quarter.' As well as galleries and studios, the buildings will house workshops and office space alongside managed live/work space.

The architect's website says: "We are currently working with local artist groups as well as the London Borough of Lewisham and key stakeholder groups to develop the site in keeping with the needs of the users, land owners, and local residents whilst meeting the council objectives for the quarter."

Given that no planning application has yet been submitted, it suggests that the renderings accompanying the info on their website are indicative.

If you want to find out more, the developer and architect are holding an open day next Saturday, on the same weekend as the Faircharm Fair and open studios of Creekside Artists (and of course Cockpit Arts which is celebrating its 25th anniversary).

The consultation event and exhibition runs from 12 till 8pm on Saturday and includes a BBQ, cinema screening and drinks.


Creekside Artists said...

Creekside Artists have been based at Faircharm for over 10 years now, and we were indeed very dismayed to hear the news. Many local artists will undoubtedly be priced out of the studio spaces which is such a shame. But in the mean time please do come and support the events next weekend!

PotionPictures said...

We just signed a two year lease at Fair Charm at the beginning of May. We were surprised that the initial offer of a three year lease was withdrawn but assured there were no plans for redevelopment - that was less than two months ago. But I guess that indicates the timescale. Such a shame - as the building and location are great - our last studios is also due for demolition and redevelopment.

Anonymous said...

Well, Goodness Me! As A tenant of Faircharm for the last 12 years, It is only a couple of weeks ago that any tenant, or even the estate manager, has heard of these plans! The management at Workspace have kept their tenants totally ill-informed. My first news of this was via someone at A.P.T. On first enquiring, I was met with total denial. Then a certain former tenant rose to the fore as a prime mover in the liason between Workspace, the architects, and the local community. Again, the tenants at Faircharm were not officially informed whatsoever. We, as lease holders, consider we have been excremented upon from a very great hight! We are also shocked and amazed that all the local residents and their dogs have been informed and consulted for their opinions, whilst the businesses that pay their rent, car parking charges, rubbish removal fees, and lets not forget business rates at Faircharm, have been coveniently ignored. Perhaps had these flourishing, unsupported businesses known sooner, they might have chosen to seek alternative accomodation earlier than might have been deemed 'convenient' for everyone but the tenants at Faircharm. We all know that there is precious little space left for small businesses in Deptford and it's surrounds. Faircharm stood out as a haven for those such as us. The idea that there was an organisation that, by it's name alone, suggested that it looked out for and supplied space to work in, was literally a comfort in what looks to be yet another modern development of cool, trendy high rise crap. As a person born and bred in Deptford, and having worked in Deptford for 25 years, I am so dissapointed, and very sad at our treatment

Anonymous said...

We're thoroughly p'd off. Have already commenced hunger strike; barricaded ourselves in our Faircharm home - wondering about long term lavatorial things. There's rumor that an escape tunnel exists through to the Creek . . at low tide.

Nightmer said...

Come on everybody - it's just what we need - more homes to crowd our schools and transport systems!!!

The Dame makes a very good point in that housing (oh - right - and gallery space - that went down well at Paynes and Borthwick Wharves too)- does not provide employment. We tenants are providing work for ourselves - and others - so that we can spend money in the cafes and pizza places...

Everyone should write to their MPs and councillors. Petitions don't have nearly the clout as a dozen letters from concerned citizens - get your pens out and write. ( provides a really easy way of doing it!)

Core Gallery / Cor Blimey Arts said...

Core Gallery / Cor Blimey Arts have also been based at Faircharm for many years and these new plans for development were only advised after we received an email at 11.30am of a consultation meeting with Workspace and architects at 3.30pm that same day... Very aptly, we are showing a topical exhibition "In the Current Climate" and have Open Studios this weekend. Do come and see us!

Nightmer said...

I wrote to Joan Ruddock (et al.) and have had a reply from her saying that it was news to her (!) - but she agreed that it seemed to be something that she would probably oppose... keep those cards and letters coming!!