Sound Lounge owners express concern over future of community centres in London after leaving Tooting home

The owners of popular south west London live music venue the Sound Lounge have appealed to London councils to preserve important community and cultural spaces.

The new pop-up venue opened on Wimbledon Broadway on Friday 1 December after being evicted from its Tooting home due to overseas developers buying up the land.

Following the move, Hannah White, the Sound Lounge’s co-founder, is concerned that community assets will be forced to shut without local government support.

She said: “I think it is very, very sad if we take away not just community centres but local businesses, family businesses – those are the heart of a local area; the expression of the community; the very personality of the space you are in.”

Hannah accepted that more housing provision was required, but she believes the problem lies with property developers relentlessly buying up London real estate.

She argued, as a result of overseas development, rents were soaring, and small business were being priced out of the freehold market, as they had to make way for nationwide commercial shops and restaurants.

When asked about the forced closure of independent spaces such as the Sound Lounge and Vauxhall’s Bonnington Community Centre and Café, Hannah said: “I think there’s a massive problem in London.

“I think there is a serious, serious problem and I do believe that local councils should work with developers to say: ‘how do we incorporate what is here – and what the community think is valuable – into this development.’”

But she added: “This is why I am so grateful to Merton Council for being so open with us.

“I feel like their relationship with us has been quite revolutionary.

“All praise to Merton Council; they’ve got their hearts in the right places.”

Hannah explained Merton Council wanted to bring culture and community to this important part of Wimbledon, and she was already talking to the council about how other spaces in the borough could be used for further cultural projects.

She said: “Moving into spaces that need something for a period of time is a really amazing, powerful thing to bring to the community and a really valuable use of the space.

“People need each other, so having spaces like ours is so important.”

Hannah said she hoped the Sound Lounge could provide people in Wimbledon with an opportunity to make a positive impact in the community.

The Sound Lounge, a non-for-profit community-led arts project and vegan café, hosting a range of events from live music nights to free family workshops, will be in Wimbledon for at least three months.

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