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Future use of Louise House 28 June 2012

Posted by Philip Peake in Uncategorized.
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Lewisham Council have launched a bidding process for organisations who have ideas for the future use of Louise House on Dartmouth Road. The building has been lying empty for nearly ten years since the last occupants – council social workers who used it as offices – moved out. It had been scheduled to be demolished as part of the swimming pool project, but a campaign to get it listed succeeded.
Ideally, the council want a local enterprise to take the building on now. There is no funding from the council available, either as capital or ongoing revenue subsidies. It will take a well-thought out professional plan in order to create an economically sustainable project around the building.
Council officers have suggested that the most successful uses might be as a shared space between social enterprises and incubators for small creative industries. The Arcola Theatre in Dalston or The Hub in Islington have been mentioned as examples of similar projects.
The bidding process will involve two rounds. In the first round, which ends in September, officers will look for: • details of the organisation bidding
• an outline of the proposed uses for Louise House
• a confirmation that there will be a comprehensive business plan • an outline of the proposed funding strategy
• details of any funding already secured.
In the second stage, the tender must include:
• full details of the proposed use
• plans and specifications of required alterations
• a comprehensive business plan with costings for capital and revenue requirements • explanation of how the initial capital outlay will be funded.
This initial capital outlay will be substantial: over £1m for just repairs and depending on any required modernisations or proposed alterations, much more. Louise House is a listed building and development of it must also be sympathetic to the neighbouring buildings. There are many options, and a bidder will need to put together a professional team.
The winning bidder will be granted a three year lease, during which they will be expected to implement the physical works to the building and implement their business plan. Following this, the council expects to grant a 125 year lease on the payment of a premium (which could be any figure from one pound to the hundreds of thousands) by the bidder.
The above is necessarily a summary. For more details, interested parties should contact the council officers at louisehouse.

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