For quite a while now, I’ve been part of the DIY Space for London co-op, working to open a non-profit, co-operatively run accessible music, art and general creativity & activism venue in London along the lines of Wharf Chambers in Leeds. Operating in London has raised its own unique challenges. Most projects of this nature in other places can find a building and have trouble raising the money. We had the opposite problem- we had an incredible amount of goodwill, and people kept giving us money, but we had trouble spending it. London is in the middle of an uncontrollable property boom, and we had immense trouble finding anywhere suitable. Places went immediately, had residential neighbours or plans to build flats in unsuitable places that would immediately result in noise complaints, had legal issues or wanted ridiculously huge deposits.
A little while ago we found a large industrial unit in SE London, just off the Old Kent Road (the cheapest Monopoly square in the UK edition). It’s ideal, being in an affordable area that isn’t in the middle of nowhere, having no residential neighbours, and being essentially a blank slate for us to do as we like with. The co-op have sat on the news until today though, because we had to wait until all the bureaucracy and legal aspects were handled, and we had the keys. Today we got the keys, so DIY Space for London is going to become a reality this summer. The blank slate aspect though means that we will need a lot of help with fitting it out before opening up. If you’re in London and want to help out, see the post on the website here for more details.