Anyone know what's happening to Living Space on Waterloo Road? It seems to be unused and falling to bits. The lovely playground they built is just rotting away. One of the wooden teddy bears is covered in fungus. I haven't seen children playing in there for years. What's the story? Has it gone bust, or is someone on the fiddle?
Thanks for the info James! It seems so sad and pathetic that a great facility like that has been ruined by incompetence. I hope Blackfriars Settlement make a go of it. You must go and look at the rotting bear. I wish I could get in and photograph it, it's really macabre!
Until now the adventure playground has been under separate management from the building (also by Blackfriars Settlement) but they haven't had the funds to open the playground more than a very limited number of hours.
In response to queries posted on your community website, we want to fill you in on the current situation at both Playspace and Living Space.
Blackfriars Settlement(BFS) has been delivering services from Playspace, at 1 Coral Street SE1, since its opening in 2002 and has been raising funds to run a wide variety of activities there since that time. Because of the insurance and safety aspects of this multi-age playground, it can only be opened if it is adequately staffed. Current activities include after-school club Monday to Friday afternoons, open access play sessions Monday to Saturday afternoons and 2 evening youth clubs. The building is also used for children’s parties, Swing Dance Club and various activities run by other community organisations.
All the BFS sessions are popular, attracting between 30 and 50 local children per session. 512 children registered for our 2012 summer scheme and attendance was as high as 90 on some days. Children may not always be visible because on wet/cold days, they choose to stay indoors, which might explain why “Rupert” has not seen them at play.
The tale of the bear is a sad one as it is the last of three, which have been there for 10 years. Mother bear rotted inside and had to be removed for safety reasons; Father bear was stolen and though tracked down, had been broken up to such an extent during the theft, that it could not be reinstated. Baby bear was fine before Christmas but has succumbed to a fungus during the very wet holidays and is currently being cleaned down in the hope of saving it.
The tale of Living Space is more complicated. Historically, it has been run as part of the Borough of Lambeth’s Children and Young People’s Services but, under Lambeth’s “Co-operative Council” initiatives, the management of Living Space was tendered out, along with other youth clubs and authority-run playgrounds and one o’clock clubs. The process started in December 2011 but the decision to award the lead role at Living Space to BFS was not communicated to us until late August 2012. Since then we have been engaged in further negotiations with Lambeth to ensure that the project will be sustainable and will work for the community. Lambeth’s co-operative council approach has been unique amongst Councils faced with the challenge of outsourcing service provision; because of this, it has taken a long time to ensure that all statutory obligations have been observed.
A scheme of works has now been agreed to repair and restore the Living Space building in preparation for the next stage. BFS expects to take charge and run the whole site together when the works have been completed and final local authority authorisations have been obtained. We have a plan to restart services from Living Space but an essential part of it involves consulting with the community and other local organisations to see how we all make this into a successful and accessible building for local people to enjoy.
If anyone would like to know more, please contact [email protected]