Tuesday, 21 April 2009

CREATIVE OPPORTUNITY IN CANNING TOWN

Currently there are nine Council-owned vacant sites across Canning Town & Custom House (CTCH): four are available for 2-5 years, five are available for at least a year. The sites are vacant following demolition and pending redevelopment of Canning Town with new housing and mixed-use developments; they vary in size from 374sqm to 5861sqm and are each contained within blue hoardings.
The Council priority is to generate income from the sites, recognising however that this may not be possible in all cases. Whilst they remain vacant, the sites are potentially vulnerable to vandalism or anti-social behaviour activities which everyone is keen to avoid; the Council would prefer the sites to be used rather than remain empty, even if this means the designated use generates a low or zero income.

Initial discussions with Sarah Braithwaite (CTCH Regeneration Team) indicate that the Council will consider a range of temporary uses on the vacant sites, particularly where these can generate generate interest and/or engagement with local residents or attract inquisitive visitors to the area. The sites could lend themselves to a range of temporary community/arts/cultural/environmental activities as a precursor to, or even as part of, the long term transformation of the local area - including the town centre, market, housing and schools - which is being led by Newham Council with the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation.

Recent examples of artists and organisations who have used derelict sites and premises for performances and installations include Roger Hiorns & Artangel (art installation in a derelict flat at Elephant & Castle), Verity-Jane Keefe (outdoor film screening at the demolished Lintons Estate, Barking) and Bob & Roberta Smith (hoardings project at Greenwich Peninsula).

Sarah and the regeneration team have a good deal of enthusiasm but have limited capacity to develop a coordinated programme of short-medium term alternative uses. Sarah would be interested in hearing about short-term proposals for the sites which interested parties could develop and deliver independently of further Council resource or funding. For further information, or to express an interest, please contact Sarah Braithwaite direct at: sarah.braithwaite@newham.gov.uk

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