Kingston Council yesterday announced its plans for a riverside regeneration project after securing £900,000 of funding from a national fund.
The Get Britain Building fund has backed the bid by Reimagining Kingston Town Centre Strategic Partnership, which aims to breathe life and vibrancy into a newly revitalised creative area of the town.
In a joint collaboration with Creative Youth, the Undercroft, 7,000 sq ft of empty space will be publicly accessible, providing new jobs and a creative space for young people.
Robin Hutchinson MBE, Chair of the charity Creative Youth, said: “This area of Kingston provides a unique opportunity for the borough at a time when places for the creative industries will be desperately needed.
“The Factory of Futures will offer the space to continue and develop this work in partnership with the University, College and other local stakeholders offering more opportunities for young people.”
As well as funding improvements to the Kingston Bridge underpass with art installations and lighting, a substantial part of the funding will go to the refurbishment of the basement of the John Lewis & Partners, a site which hosts ancient remains of a bridge over the Thames.
A John Lewis spokesperson said: “We are in the early stages of discussions with Kingston council regarding the regeneration of Kingston town centre but can confirm that we have agreed terms with the council to take this space.
“We will be working closely with the team on this project over the coming months.”
The Get Britain Building fund was set up by the government in response to the economic impact of COVID-19.
The Mayor of London was allocated £22.1 million for a package of projects to boost economic growth, fuel local recovery and increase jobs.
This followed a submission coordinated by the Greater London Authority, working with London Councils and local authorities.
Caroline Kerr, Leader of Kingston Council, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to reinvigorate a historic riverside location in Kingston and create a vibrant cultural space for young talent in the heart of the town.
“The Undercroft encapsulates centuries of Kingston’s history and we are looking forward to working with our partners to breath new life into it in creative and exciting ways.”
Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills said: “These two projects will be delivered as part of a wider programme of investment at this location to repurpose unused areas and provide affordable workspace for local businesses.
“It will support the delivery of the £6m South London Knowledge Exchange programme in the borough, acting as a catalyst for engagement between business and academia, boosting innovation and productivity.”
The investment package totalling £2.8m will be delivered over the next 18 months.