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Southwark could hold full council meetings in Tooley Street foyer

Full meetings of Southwark Council could be held in the atrium of the council's Tooley Street office building, according to a report to be agreed by the borough's cabinet this week.

Flags at 160 Tooley Street
The civic flags previously flown at Southwark Town Hall can now be seen above 160 Tooley Street
Southwark could hold full council meetings in Tooley Street foyer
The building's atrium, seen here before the council moved in, could be used to host meetings of council assembly

Southwark's cabinet is expected to agree this week to transfer the town hall in Peckham Road for use by the Camberwell College of Art via a long lease arrangement with their development partner Alumno.

Since September all council committee meetings have been held at 160 Tooley Street and the last three council assembly meetings have been held at various venues around the borough.

The number of formal meetings to be held at Tooley Street is likely to increase if proposals to remove responsibility for planning decisions from community councils are implemented and two new central planning sub-committees are formed to take on some of the same business.

When the council first leased the Tooley Street building it was expected to be a purely administrative centre with no public functions to be held there.

As part of the report on the sale of the town hall, the cabinet is also expected to approve work to enable council assembly (meetings of all 63 Southwark councillors) to be held in the Tooley Street building.

"Recognising the importance of maintaining a central focus for civic identity and presence, officers have investigated the potential of hosting council assembly in the large public areas of 160 Tooley Street as one of the several venues across the borough," says the report by surveyor Christopher Rhodes.

"As well as the move of committee meetings to Tooley Street's conference suite, the public spaces have been successfully used to host a range of events over and above those incorporated into the initial specification of the building.

"With the use of flexible furniture and technology, this option could present an extremely efficient use of space and a high quality environment for public engagement.

"A number of options have been identified and some investment would be required, particularly to ensure appropriate acoustics, lighting and environmental conditions.

"Operational changes would also be required to ensure security and to minimise disruption to normal business activity.

"Any investment would improve the usability of public areas for other community and civic events.

"These proposals will be the subject of a further report to cabinet recommending a preferred option and identifying capital and revenue costs.

"The indicative study suggests that all of the Tooley Street options are substantially cheaper in revenue terms than retaining the chamber at Peckham Road."

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