The churnalism outrage prompted by the opening of the Nine Elms sky pool obscured the fact that it is largely a sales gimmick to which the provision of local community space supplied by developer Eco-World Ballymore is connected.
It might be a daft way to develop a major brownfield site near the centre of a great city, but the stubborn fact remains that without investment in “luxury flats” and all the flotsam that so often goes with them, there would be fewer nice things for those who can’t themselves afford high-end prime central housing.
In the case of Nine Elms, those things include a new home for the World Heartbeat Music Academy, a Wandsworth-based charity which is to occupy premises in one of the blocks the sky pool straddles, having been awarded it by the developer and Wandsworth Council. They have 50-year lease costing £1 a year.
They have also become one of the very few London projects to receive a piece of the first pay-out from the government’s Levelling Up Fund – £800,000 arriving hot on the heels of construction work commencing on the concrete shell of their forthcoming new location, and bringing them much closer to the total needed for completing the job.
The charity was founded in 2009 by musician Sahana Gero to provide free music lessons for young people aged between five and 25. It is currently based in Kimber Road in Wandsworth and when it moves to Nine Elms, right next to the US Embassy, it will be able to expand both its range of activities and the number of young people it works with, many of whom receive bursaries.
A “community-informed approach” that connects it with local housing estates, including the Patmore and the Doddington and Rollo, will continue, the academy says.
The Nine Elms base will be equipped with recording studios and a concert hall, the first new one to open in the capital since 2008. The space is scheduled to open next May and will formally launch next September. As well as offering young Londoners opportunities to make music, it will provide insights into the ability of a much-criticised urban space to accommodate and be embraced by the types of Londoners it is accused of excluding.
Image from World Heartbeat website.
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