Plans to turn Peckham garages into grass roots business hub get into gear

Owen Sheppard (29 September, 2016) Culture Misc

"Twenty or 30 years ago these underground garages had all sorts of crime."

12184The Livesey Exchange; (front centre) Nicholas Okwulu

It’s onward and upwards for the Pempeople project that is transforming 60 underground garages at a Peckham estate into an entrepreneurial hub.

Last week the deputy London Mayor for regeneration, Jules Pipe, went for a taste of the businesses that will call the Ledbury Estate their home.

A crowdfunding target of £54,000 was reached in August, triggering a £20,000 pledge from the London Mayor’s office. Another £50,000 from the Old Kent Road estate’s T&RA was fund-matched with a further £50k from Southwark Council.

Nicholas Okwulu, director of the Pempeople social enterprise, told the News: “It’s nice seeing everything coming together – we’re seeing it’s actually going to happen. There’s loads of people who want to set up small enterprises. And with the regeneration of the Old Kent Road, we want local people to compete with companies who are moving in.

“By developing skills and establishing themselves in new places for them like this space, they will develop and grow and be able to apply for tenders on development projects with the council. So we’re making sure local people get a share in the success and reducing social inequalities. In one year I can see this being packed with people – a drum of activity.”

Janette Mason of the Ledbury Estate T&RA said: “Twenty or 30 years ago these underground garages had all sorts of crime with drugs and prostitution. It’s great to see people putting it to good use and we’re really happy with the support we’re getting on this from our councillors.”

Councillor Mark Williams, Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, previously said the council was “working closely with Pempeople to make sure they reach their target and we are looking at what funding might be available in the future”.

People can donate and back the project at spacehive.com/OKRStudios.

Nicholas Okwulu and Ulrike Steven

Nicholas Okwulu and Ulrike Steven

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