London already has several such spaces, the largest being London Hackspace in Bethnal Green, with over 1,000 members. However, there is no such provision in South London. We aim to fill that need.
After many months of planning, we incorporated in October 2013 and began building a community in a series of temporary spaces. We then arranged a 4-month pop-up in a long-vacant shop on Norwood Road during the Summer, where we experienced strong growth and held several public events. We now have 60 paying members and have taken on a 3-year lease on a large railway arch directly behind this shop, which thanks to our renovations is now rented by a new business. We have begun renovating the arch as a permanent home for SLMS.
Due to our limited budget this will be initially a small space, leaving the rest of the arch unfurnished, awaiting further funding. The Fund can let us bring forward completion by as much as 18 months, opening up a fully-equipped space to everyone as soon as possible.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
SLMS also directly benefits surrounding community and businesses. While there are few vacant arches, The Estate suffers from low footfall, failing to attract the many shoppers on nearby Norwood Road. As a result The Estate has little sustained natural surveillance, leading to problems with fly-tipping, illegal uses in some arches, anti-social behaviour, etc. The Makerspace can be a catalyst for the transformation of this area, not only bringing much needed activity to The Estate (the space will be open 24/7) but also forming the basis for a hub for creative and public-facing businesses. This can only help to strengthen the already thriving high street on Norwood Road, and supports existing improvements to the public realm on the High Street, delivered by LB Southwark and the community-led Herne Hill Forum. Also, local suppliers such as Herne Hill Builder Centre, will be used by members to source materials for their projects. Hungry makers will make use of the local takeaways and cafes.
Steps to get it done:
Money from the Fund will also be used to host public events. These events are vital in raising the profile of the Makerspace and attracting a more diverse membership, as well as helping to secure our long term financial future. In the past we have hosted the highly popular reStart gadget repair sessions, and our own learn-to-solder workshop. We plan to make the space available for other community groups. We already have a local knitting club on board and will be hosting screenings for the Herne Hill Film Festival.
Much of the UK's manufacturing and creative industry rests on the shoulders of tinkerers in garden sheds and garages. It's a national pastime that sometimes bears the fruit of world-changing technology. But sheds are in short supply in densely-populated London. SMLS pools the resources of many such tinkerers in order to provide the best possible garden shed for all its members and the wider community; a fertile bed for the creative and technological innovators of the future.
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