Developers Guildmore have strengthened and repaired fencing around the Play Tower after Lewisham Building Preservation Trust raised concerns over the lax security surrounding the grade II listed building .
Local residents say they have seen people repeatedly break through the fencing, add to the graffitti covering the walls and dump bags of rubbish around the building which is to be restored by Guildmore.
One resident reported seeing a large group of kids entering the play tower. “They seem to be there most weekends.” Passersby have also been seen climbing “through a hole in the gate” to take photos and investigate.”
The trust wrote to Mayor Damien Egan, urging the council to secure the building as quickly as possible and calling on it to press ahead with the restoration plans.
“The best thing would be to get the refurbishment of the building under way … but I understand the development agreement has yet to be signed off by the council,” said Tony Rich, chair of the trust.
But he said the rapid response of Guildmore was a hopeful sign that work might yet commence on the building
Guildmore and partners Curzon won the competition to restore and develop the Play Tower more than two and a half years ago.
But work on the £14m project cannot start until the development agreement is signed.
Council officers say the Mayor and Cabinet agreed a way forward on the restoration works at a meeting in November 2019.
“Conversations are ongoing so that a planning application can be brought forward as soon as feasible,” they add. “We are keen for the Play Tower to be brought back into use for the community,”
Guildmore and Curzon are proposing a four screen cinema, a bar and restaurant linked to the cinema, affordable office space for local residents and workers and 33 homes in two new buildings.
Guildmore say the core aim of the project is to use the for-sale residential units to release revenue to pay for the restoration of the Play Tower, bringing it back into public use.
Guildmore and Curzon secured the contract with Lewisham in 2017 to bring forward proposals for the restoration of the building.
The Play Tower is one of Historic England’s top 10 At-Risk listed buildings in the UK.