Funding boost for growing food, skills and businesses at Loughborough Farm
Loughborough Farm will soon be growing new businesses as well as fresh fruit and veg thanks to an award of over £1.6 million from the Mayor of London’s London Regeneration Fund. Lambeth Council, who is providing the land at a peppercorn rent for 20 years, expects the project to create around 1,000sqm of employment space and already has backing from a wide range of local partners.
This secures the long-term future of Loughborough Farm community growing project, which has been developed informally by volunteers since 2013. It will continue to develop and share farming skills and bring health and well-being benefits to local residents and employees alike.
Meanwhile Space, which currently runs nearby Platform offering space for local start-ups in 12 railway arches, is on board to help set up and support the project for the first five years. After this time, it is expected that the local community will manage it.
There is potential for studio space, co-working offices and workshops. Businesses would be encouraged to offer skills and training workshops as part of a volunteering scheme built into their tenancy agreements. In turn, tenants would benefit from business support and training provided by local organisations, the Green Man Skills Zone and Tree Shepherd.
Tree Shepherd, which helps fledgling businesses develop into sustainable companies and is behind the Co-pop container at Pop Brixton, will have a business development officer on-site to work with business tenants and residents from the adjoining estate. As many local training opportunities as possible will be created whilst the project is under construction and the local community will also be invited to help build furniture, growing beds and terraces for the farm to continue and flourish.
Opportunities for local employment and learning new skills is central to all elements of the project, which is good news for an area that has not seen the same benefits of growth as some other areas of Lambeth. The growth rate for jobs in Loughborough Junction between 2009 and 2014 was only a third of that across Lambeth and London.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth said: “This is fantastic news for Loughborough Junction – an area that has been neglected for too long but now undoubtedly on the up. The business and employment opportunities are really exciting and I’m certain the local residents will make the most of them. It is projects and partners like these that are making Lambeth the leading borough in London for small business, enterprise and growth.”
To create more much-needed employment space, some of the arches that define Loughborough Junction will be bought back into employment use. The Arch Recycling design and build competition, expected to launch in March this year, will look for ideas to bring some of these back into use by building self-contained, secure structures within up to eight arches.
The project partners include Loughborough Estate Management Board, Loughborough Estate Tenants and Residents’ Association, Loughborough Junction Action Group, Network Rail, the Loughborough Farm, the Green Man Skills Zone, Tree Shepard,South London Makerspace, Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group. This list is likely to grow as more community groups come on board.
You can read the plan for local employment here