Southwark site was hit by fire seven years ago

Feix & Merlin has won planning for its proposals to turn a grade II-listed former town hall and library in south London into a community hub.

Construction at Walworth Town Hall is expected to start in the second half of next year after the design was given the green light by Southwark planners last week.

The bulding was hit by a blaze seven years ago and has been vacant ever since.

But plans to give the site on Walworth Road and the neighbouring Newington Library a new lease of life were submitted over the summer by Marylebone developer General Projects, which is behind Buckley Gray Yeoman’s makeover of James Stirling’s grade II*-listed No1 Poultry.

Architect Feix & Merlin’s proposals for the Southwark scheme also include an employment and education centre with serviced office space aimed at SMEs and creative businesses.

A new public café will be built in the main entrance lobby with General Projects promising it will be run by a local operator.

This area, along with the council chamber, was most damaged by the 2013 fire and under the plans will feature exposed cross-laminated timber which the architect said would be more sustainable and more sympathetic to the original building. Work will also include new terraced space and a courtyard.

Construction is slated to start by next autumn and is due to finish in 2023.

The town hall dates back to the 1860s with the library built 30 years later. Walworth Road, site of the Labour Party headquarters until 1997 and Tony Blair’s election victory, runs for a mile south from Elephant & Castle towards Burgess Park, or from the Heygate Estate to the Aylesbury Estate in the south, both post-war housing estates which have been subject to high-profile and controversial redevelpments.