Things are now moving very quickly. In March, Southwark Council’s Cabinet meeting approved the main terms of the lease to be offered to Bede. Public consultation on the Planning Application (ref 17/AP/0527) has ended and we expect a decision in May. We are now working with architects on the detailed design brief for the new Centre – layout, electrical services, decoration etc. Once planning consent is obtained, the scheme will go out to tender. Southwark are keen to complete the new Bede Centre as quickly as possible so that we can move in and free up our existing Bede Centre for demolition. The site will then be used to build new Council housing. We currently estimate that the most likely date for our move is early 2020.
Photo of Maydew House from Abbeyfield Estate (Kevin Ireland)
The way is now clear for us to begin raising the £1.2 million we will need by 2020 to purchase the lease, equip the new Centre and pay the fees and related costs of managing the move. It’s a big sum of money, but it is exceptional value. It gives us a 125 year lease at peppercorn rent and a new Bede Centre, purpose built to our design and specification. It will be handed over to us fully fitted and ready to move into. In 1970, when we opened our existing Bede Centre, we paid £37,879.52p for our 60 year lease. That was nearly 950 times the average national wage which, back then, was just £40 a week – so you can see the lease wasn’t a gift even in those times of generous GLC subsidies!
The new Bede Centre will be built just 150 metres from where we are now. We will be at ground floor and first floor level under the existing Maydew tower block of flats. Work has already begun to completely renovate the tower block and increase the number of flats it contains. We will be right beside the beautiful Southwark Park and a new gate will be created close to the new Bede Centre which will give us easy access. The new Bede Centre will have just over 1,000 sq metres of floor space, compared to the 800 sq metres we currently have in our two buildings, Bede House and Bede Centre. All Bede’s activities – our services and café for people who have a Learning Disability, our Youth Clubs, our Starfish Project providing confidential help for those experiencing Domestic Abuse and Bede’s Central Administration – will be moved to the new Centre. Bede’s trustees are considering the options for the future of Bede House once we’ve moved.
Photo of Maydew House from Southwark Park (Kevin Ireland)
You will not be surprised to know that Bede does not have £1.2m in the bank to take on the new Bede Centre, so this is no small challenge! However, there are some important factors in our favour. There are Trusts who only give capital grants and we have already begun to talk to some who have not funded us before. We have a very strong case to make for their support. Our plan is to first secure some major grants before we make a wider appeal to our supporters and the community. Secondly, we own the freehold of Bede House and so we have a significant asset which, whilst not being sufficient to cover all of the capital costs of moving to the new Bede Centre, could make a substantial contribution. We therefore have something to kick-start our appeal. Thirdly, and most importantly, Bede’s services are needed more than ever, and the quality of our work is widely recognised in Southwark and beyond. We hope that this exciting future will inspire those who support us already to help us raise the funds for the new Bede Centre and the annual running costs of our services. We hope it will also attract new supporters who recognise the value of what Bede does in the community. If you would like to find out more, please contact us. Thank you!
Bede’s new Centre shown in pink (hall and activity space) and yellow (offices) for all Bede projects– from the Planning Proposal