The Kids Korner is a distinctive Art Deco and landmark building at 232 Hither Green Lane. Built as the Park Cinema it was recently serving the community as a kids play centre. Its site is still today a strategic one for the success of Hither Green Lane and as such it has unrivalled potential to become a catalyst of regeneration of the area.
The bad news is that a planning application to demolish and build a block of flats with a shop on the front has been submitted by a land developer.
Allowing this to be the end of the Kids Korner site would effectively be surrendering to someone else’s laxity, an easy option that furthers the decline of the area.
Its position on a busy junction on the high street is perfect for a community type of use but very poorly suited for quality housing. Not all desirable objectives can be fulfilled in one closely packed area and robust public amenities are more important for long term community cohesion than a few more flats.
The parade of shops ending by the Kids Korner has recently suffered a serious decline and is now even sporting some boarded up unused retail space. In the current economic downturn the addition of a commercial space to the front is not likely to improve the area. The addition of another boarded up shop is not in the interest of the area or the nearby retailers.
The area has a dramatic lack of community facilities and youth provision and as such we support the use of the Kids Korner as a multi-use community centre to include a performance space (which was the original purpose of the building) as well as other spaces for different uses so to allow as wide as possible use for the whole of our community.
The provision of a community centre is also the vision of the Hither Green Urban Design and Development Framework, and a recent audit of Youth Provision made by the Council found a complete lack of indoor spaces for activities for the youths in this part of the borough.
A community centre on the Kids Korner site will support trade as well as improve safety in the area because of the increased passage and its location at the gate of the Meridian South development will also act as a bridge across the community thus furthering community cohesion in this neighbourhood.
We call on the Council to find a way to secure the building for the community and we suggest a landswap, possibly using part of the redundant brownfield at the bottom of Church Grove, a site that is located within Lewisham Central ward boundaries and that looks like it’s again available and unallocated.
There are residents committed to do the work to make this happen, this vision can become a reality, but to do so we first need to stop this plan for this redevelopment. This is an opportunity for Hither Green Lane that must not be wasted.