The council does not have the funds available to develop the site and bring it up to modern day standards, nor does it have the need for all the space in the buildings for its own services. The council believes there are brilliant organisations – with a need for quality space in this central location – that can make a great contribution to the local community and bring visitors to the area.
The marketing and evaluation process is now complete and legal negotiations are underway. Once completed experience suggests that at least another two years would be required to design, gain planning and undertake construction.
The Council is investing £2million to support the delivery of the project and specifically the works required for the community, arts and culture space.
The plans from the council project are still held by the council along with all the investigatory work that was undertaken to develop the plans. This material has been made available to General Projects so that they are able to fully understand the condition of the building and its historic significance.
The council has announced a new library and heritage centre on the Walworth Road. Visit www.southwark.gov.uk/WL&SHC for more information on this project
The idea of a Heritage Hub has had to be reviewed as part of this process. The councils Archive Service which is currently based at the John Harvard Library, Borough High Street will continue to be the centre for access to the borough archives. The future use of the Cuming collection is being considered as part of the new library and heritage centre on the Walworth Road.
Since March 2013, the Cuming Museum service has been very active. A large scale conservation project to recover the affected collections was successfully completed in 2014. Fortunately, over 98 per cent of objects on display at the time of the fire were recovered and the bulk of the collection was entirely unaffected. The Cuming Museum has continued to run an events and education programme ever since, using alternative venues across the borough. Since the beginning of 2016 more of the museum collection has been made available digitally through an improved heritage website http://heritage.southwark.gov.uk/
The council is committed to ensuring that there is public access to the collection including new and innovative ways promoting it. We want to ensure that it is used to best effect for education and research and has as broad reach as possible. As part of this we will be including a heritage facility in our plans for a new library and heritage centre on Walworth Road.
While this process is conducted, the council has agreed a temporary lease with the Art Academy to use the building. They are using the space to run art classes and courses and also a public exhibition and activity programme. Find out more from the Art Academy http://artacademy.org.uk/newington/