This month Surrey Docks Farm started work on Phase 1 of its Riverfront Development, thanks to funding allocated by Southwark Council from levies on local developments. By the end of the year the farm will be offering a range of new and enhanced community facilities with stunning riverfront views looking across to Canary Wharf, providing new activity spaces, lettable rooms and outdoor areas all year round.

Architects PUP have designed the development and act as contract administrator; John Perkins Projects is the contractor; and Hollybrook Homes have kindly funded two cabins for the duration so the Farm can continue to run its education programmes and classes.

The farm’s River Room is being re-designed, upgraded, refitted and extended with a glass orangery to provide a quality, flexible, multi-use space for a wide range of uses – for schools’ programmes, classes, meetings, conferences, birthday parties and events. The adjacent three storey tower, burnt out in an arson attack over a decade ago, is being converted. On the ground floor: a Farm Kitchen providing a training resource for all ages promoting cooking with fresh produce, good diets and healthy eating and a catering resource for events held in the River Room. On the first floor: an office to accommodate the farm’s growing staff team. On the top floor: a calm, flexible activity space with a fine view overlooking the Thames – for meetings, arts and crafts and therapeutic sessions.

To complete the development, the farm is currently fundraising for Phase 2 to open up its river frontage in its unique setting by the Thames. Its new main entrance will then be through the gates onto the Thames Path where the public will be led along widened, paved entrances into the Farm and its new riverfront facilities. There will be new paving, landscaping and gardens providing a special space for sitting out and socialising and for community events. Gates and a retractable trellis fence will be installed to enable all the new riverfront facilities provided in Phase 1 to be available for evening classes as well as day time use by securing the rest of the Farm and its animals.

Cllr Johnson Situ, cabinet Member for growth, development and planning commented: “This is really good news for the borough’s only city farm. Here in Southwark Council we are delighted to have awarded the Farm one of the earliest Community Infrastructure Levy (CILs) amounts to enable them to make all these superb improvements. This award is a great example of the council’s refreshed approach to local CIL which will see the development of Community Investment Plans to support growth across the borough. As part of the award, the Farm will also contribute to Southwark being an Age Friendly borough with further opportunities for older and younger people alike as well as new inter-generational projects”.

Cllr Jasmin Ali, Cabinet Member for children’s and adult services commented: “Speaking personally, I cannot wait to bring my family down there to see the transformation.  We have also granted the Farm a new 35 year lease at a charitable rent so that these new education and community resources are secured for the long term and the Farm can enhance and develop its special offers for residents”.

As the borough’s only city farm, with its gates open seven days a week and free entrance, the farm will provide its 50,000 visitors a year with an enhanced visitor experience and renewed opportunities to learn about and engage with all aspects of a working farm.

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