Plans to convert a multi-storey car park in Peckham into 800 affordable artists’ studios were rejected by Southwark Council yesterday (5 November). Despite support from cultural leaders, including the outgoing director of Tate Modern, Chris Dercon, and the UK culture minister, Ed Vaizey, the council selected a rival bid to turn the ten-storey structure into temporary retail and event spaces, with 50 studios and workshops.
Rohan Silva, a former adviser to the British prime minister David Cameron, proposed transforming the car park with Hannah Barry, the founder of the non-profit arts organisation Bold Tendencies, which has used the space to host summertime exhibitions as well as Frank’s rooftop bar. The pair planned to work with the Turner Prize-nominated artist collective, Assemble, to build what would have been the largest cluster of studios in London.
Instead the council chose Pop Community, which opened a temporary retail park in Brixton earlier this year. According to a council statement, its proposal had to “work alongside” Bold Tendencies and Frank’s Café, and Pop Community’s plans include both projects.
The future for Bold Tendencies, which has been a highlight of the Peckham art scene for the past nine years, now looks uncertain, however. “Bold Tendencies has attracted more than 900,000 people to Peckham over the past nine years, and this decision now leaves the future of this award-winning art project in jeopardy,” Barry and Silva say.
The council's decision represents a blow for artists who are being forced out of the capital as studio spaces are vacated and redeveloped. In the next five years, 30% of studios in London are expected to disappear.