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Lewisham Council builds its creative enterprise zone with artists studios

Future Cities Forum will be hearing from Acting Chief Executive, Jennifer Daothong, on how the borough is enabling artists' studio space at our BFI event this March.

Artists have been forced out of studio space in central London due to high rents and the borough has been keen to build its creative districts by providing new spaces for them around Lewisham, New Cross and Deptford.

Ladywell Arch Studios is one such initiative. Under Ladywell Bridge, a few minutes walk from Ladywell train station the Council has helped to establish a small community of artists and creative small businesses. Among other arts and studio spaces, Lewisham also supports ACME Studios in Childers Street, Deptford which has 130 artists studios in the largest affordable studio building in south east London.

Some two years ago, Lewisham announced a new creative partnership with key artistic, creative and educational institutions in the borough, bringing 85 new affordable artists’ studios to Deptford at Second Floor Studios. It stated:

'We have worked with a number of local partners to successfully bid for New Cross and Deptford to become one of London’s first Creative Enterprise Zones, securing over £500,000 in funding from the Mayor of London.

The Creative Enterprise Zone will build on the unique strengths of the Deptford and New Cross area with its rich history of arts, thriving creative and digital sector, and its huge cultural and educational assets.

The area has a unique creative environment and a growing number of creative businesses from digital and graphic design, contemporary visual art to dance and music. Employment in the sector grew by 71% in the last five years – twice the rate of the capital as a whole.'

One of the topics for discussion at our March forum is provision for connected jobs and housing. How can artists afford to live near their studios as more creative districts emerge in London and house prices grow?

Under Jennifer Daothong's leadership, the Council states that it has delivered high quality social homes for residents as part of its Building for Lewisham programme; secured £19 million of funding from the Levelling Up Fund for Lewisham Town Centre; and continued the rollout of the Council’s award-winning Schools Streets programme so that Lewisham now has more School Streets than any other London Borough.

Before joining Lewisham, Jennifer held a number of director roles at Waltham Forest Council which all involved working as part of the senior leadership team to improve housing delivery, strategy and development. Jennifer has worked across the fields of housing, regeneration and environment since she entered public service as a Greater London Authority trainee, including roles at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Southwark Council.


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