We are delighted that, in the year of Brixton Windmill's bicentenary, Lambeth Council has approved the expenditure of £360,000 for the construction of an education centre in Windmill Gardens.
Under the plan, the Friends will be granted a lease to run and maintain the centre. This will allow us to maintain and expand our very successful education programme with local schools and beyond, as well as developing milling and other activities to provide an income to safeguard the future of Brixton Windmill.
Squire & Partners, the architects who worked with the Friends, Lambeth Council and Clearview Consulting as part of the first stage design, will be continuing with the overall design and build of the education centre subject to planning consent. This is anticipated for the end of November / early December 2016.
We will publish further updates here as they occur. In the meantime, here is some more information.
The education centre is the next step for Brixton Windmill and Friends of Windmill Gardens. In 2016 the windmill was 200 years old and, as well as celebrating the anniversary, the Friends of Windmill Gardens recognised the achievements of the group and its aim of providing a legacy for the next generation. Today they are once again producing flour at the windmill, and the education centre will provide a place of learning and interest for both children and adults who visit the windmill.
Lambeth Council will own the building, and the Friends of Windmill Gardens will be responsible for running and paying for the upkeep, under a Community Service Agreement.
The building is primarily an education and visitor centre, so it will be used to run workshops for schools and other groups as well as supporting the regular programme of open days and other events. Having a dedicated building will also allow the Friends to expand their milling activities and develop a social enterprise selling flour to local bakeries, restaurants and retailers, as well as running baking workshops, to fund the education programme. The Friends will also be able to sell and store merchandise, which helps to raise much needed funds for the windmill. When it is not being used for Friends’ activities, the building will be available to hire, at affordable rates, by community groups and others.
Several options were explored during the early feasibility stages. Extending the existing building would put the current Stay & Play group at risk and impact their ability to deliver their activities. Additionally, the cost of extending would not be feasible, as the area required for the new building would lead to an irregular form wrapping round the windmill, and would be overly expensive due to its complex geometry. This ultimately would have led to the perception of more park space being lost, whereas the current proposal is tucked away against the boundary wall with limited impact.
The design has been considered in terms of its scale and aesthetic to complement the windmill. The building has been kept to a single storey with a shallow apex roof to limit any obstructing views to the windmill. The choice of material to clad the building has been selected to mimic the windmill, ensuring that the two buildings harmonise with each other. The planning application includes a heritage statement that examines the impact the new building will have on the listed windmill.
The proposal is for a crafted timber frame construction for the skeleton of the building, which will support the roof and walls, directly referencing the windmill. Historic photos show many smaller buildings sited around the windmill, clad in weather boarding as proposed in these designs. One of the key concepts was to try and reintroduce a village feel to the park.
It is intended for the new building to achieve a BREEAM rating of Excellent. It will have great thermal efficiency, and the architects are engaging with repowering.org.uk to supply solar panels for the project.
Holmewood Nursery and the Friends of Windmill Gardens have enjoyed a good working relationship, but as both organisations are looking to expand, the building can no longer accommodate a shared facility.
No. However, the exterior of the existing building is likely to be painted to reflect the style of the windmill and the education centre in line with the aim of creating a village feel to the park.
The Friends are aiming to recruit a part time education officer and part time business development manager in the first instance – and they welcome interest from local people.
Tours of Brixton Windmill will continue to be organised and run by the Friends of Windmill Gardens, who are all unpaid volunteers. It may be possible to run tours during the week subject to increasing the number of volunteers. This is being discussed as part of our business planning. The primary purpose of the education centre is to allow the Friends to resume and expand their education programme so that more schools are able to visit the windmill.
We are aiming to open the centre in summer 2017.
The education centre will be available to hire by community groups and others when it is not being used by the Friends. There is likely to be a sliding scale of hire costs, with community groups getting a discounted rate.
The local community will have access to a new space for workshops and activities, expanding the kind of events that can be held locally. Local schools, who have modelled some of their curriculum around windmill visits, will benefit from an expanded education programme. There will also be new facilities for park users, including public toilets when the building is open.
Please contact email@example.com for information on school visits.
Once the centre is completed we will publicise details of how to book the space for events.
At the moment there are no plans for a permanent café, but it may be possible to run a pop-up café occasionally at weekends once the centre is open. In the meantime, the Friends will continue to offer refreshments, including home-made cakes, on days when Brixton Windmill is open.
The toilets will be available to park users when the building is open.
October 2016: Lambeth Council approves £360,000 for the construction of an education centre in Windmill Gardens, subject to planning permission and consultation.
July 2016: Public consultation, when proposed plans and site of the new building are displayed and people are encouraged to give their feedback, which is overwhelmingly positive.
May 2016: Clearview Consulting and Squire & Partners are appointed by Lambeth Council to carry out a feasibility study and create building design options for an education centre. Their work involves talking to local partners, businesses and residents, including the Windmill Cluster of schools, Blenheim Gardens RMO, and Holmewood Stay & Play, to ensure that the plan considers all viewpoints and feeds into building development.
Nov 2015: The Friends start a high-profile campaign and petition urging Lambeth Council not to delay plans to build a promised education centre in Windmill Gardens