Walworth Rd’s Cooltan Arts needs our support! CoolTan believes mental well-being is enhanced by the power of creativity. It’s a charity run by and for adults with mental distress. They run a varied programme of creative workshops from our vibrant arts centre in Walworth Road; these include visual arts, textiles, digital arts, video, poetry, and performing arts. Their activities include exhibitions, public art projects and well-being walks which help break down the stigma of mental distress.
CoolTan was based for years in old Blanchard’s site on the Walworth Rd, behind what was Wimpy (if you remember!) but is now Mama Thai. Cooltan secured a legally binding promise for new premises in this development but the site was later bought up by Goldcrest,a particularly expansive land acquisition, development and sales company. Goldcrest are now trying not to honour the S106 agreement if the development goes ahead as proposed. In the mean time CoolTan have been temporarily based over the road in offices above the Post Office.
CoolTan building and users at Blanchard Site before the demolition
Cooltan is a great organisation which has won the Queens Award for Voluntary Service http://www.cooltanarts.org.uk/category/press-releases. Now they need locals and others to do what they can to make sure it stays in Walworth, so please try to get along to the planning meeting at Southwark Council Offices, 160 Tooley St SE1 2QH, tomorrow 7pm Tues 3Nov 2014, when a planning committee meeting will decide their future!
It’s especially important to support CoolTan not just because developments such as these are hammering local community groups and forcing them out of the area but because the Council in it’s wisdom is not supporting CoolTan despite the amazing and vital work they do for local people:
Above from The Council’s report on the 237 Walworth Rd planning application. Particularly rubbish is that previously as stated in the Council’s own report on the site is that ‘The council supported the provision made for Cooltan Arts as they provide a valuable community service‘. What has changed then?
We often wonder how Section 106 which is the supposed community benefit wrought from developers can just be snapped away with the click of the fingers. The development itself is more private homes with a minimum of affordable housing (4 shared ownership and 4 target rent). Goldcrest has the cheek to argue that providing CoolTan with a space there will affect the viability of them providing the affordable units. Once again, the viability is argued not against the millions of profit they make on the private houses they are putting up but against the paltry number of ‘affordable’ homes they are required to build. Nice eh?