Many people in Kennington and Vauxhall were deeply disappointed when Lambeth Council decided to sell the Beaufoy Institute buildings and car park in two parcels to Bellway Homes and Diamond Way Buddhism (DWB) for a housing development and residential Buddhist Centre as opposed to a vocational training school. See for example: www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=149308658468467
Some have been disturbed by allegations about the nature of DWB and some of the views of its leader. Concerns have been expressed in the Lambeth Weekender (http://edition.pagesuite- professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?referral=other&pnum=&refresh=r08B2E1nL0y9&EID=cf9c9a81-ce62-450e-879a-c3ecd366e608&skip=). DWP is known to issue legal threats to take action for libel, meaning that allegations posted on the web do not stay up for long.
Many in the area feel that the deal between the Council and DWP is done and that therefore local organisations should co-operate to ensure community provision within the centre. DWB says it wants to engage with the local community, so it must learn to take the rough with the smooth and enter genuine dialogue about concerns as well as its planning application and future community use.
DWP Planning Application
DWP’s purchase of the Institute building will only be finalised if it receives planning permission from the Council. It has submitted a planning application which involves substantial external changes to the building.
DWP are requesting a change of use to provide residential institute, residential and community, (24 private bedrooms, 1 dormitory and 2 self contained flats), involving 3 storey rear extension and ground, first and second floor extensions. There will be alterations to existing fenestration with removal of external staircase, replacement of existing single glazed windows with crittal double glazed windows. A terrace will be formed to the rear elevation, with the installation of a ramp. Solar panels will be installed and existing rooflights replaced to the rear elevation. Internal alterations will include, removal and installation of new partition walls, creation of new staircases and corridors. New pedestrian and vehicular access gates will be Installed with provision of off street car parking, cycle storage refuse and recycling and associated landscaping.
The details can also be seen on the Lambeth Council Planning database http://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=M1HNZABO08Q00
· Fully renovate the Beaufoy Institute, with minimal changes to the listed building
· Provide space for community living including common dining and children’s areas.
· Include a contemplation garden, exhibition room and facilities for events and meetings.
· Provide accommodation for the Buddhists living at the centre and visitors.
‘The community consultation has highlighted interest in the history of the building and in the transformation of the derelict site. The renovation will provide opportunities for local people to be involved in the project and also visit and use the building for different events and community activities.
The primary activity in the institute will be Buddhist meditation and an associated program including art exhibitions and classes on wellbeing. Funds have been raised for the project from within the Buddhist community and have come from many activities in the last 10 years both in the UK and in Europe.’
See also the Labour Councillors SE11 Action Team blog site: http://se11actionteam.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/beaufoy-institute-planning-applications.html.
For DWP information on their plans see www.buddhism-london.org. There is also a regularly updated blog at www.buddhism-london.org/blog.
Bellway Homes Planning Application
The rest of the site is being sold to Bellway Homes for housing if they are granted planning permission. Bellway propose to build two new part 3/8 storey buildings comprising 75 new residential units on southern part of site, including landscaping, cycle parking and associated works.
The details can be seen on the Lambeth Council Planning database. Go to http://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do;jsessionid=524182DD3D8F363479EA9FC4ACB81F62?action=weeklyList and go to week 18 March and Princes Ward.
The consultation closing date for both applications is 19 April.