Kingston Council announces affordable riverside workspace for young people

Kingston Council has unveiled plans to convert the basement of John Lewis on Kingston riverside, known as the Undercroft, into an affordable workspace and creative hub for entrepreneurs and young people in the community.

This latest facet of the council’s Transform Kingston programme, in partnership with business development firm Town Square Spaces Ltd, local charity Creative Youth and the John Lewis Partnership, will provide a space for co-working and business support in the heart of Kingston.

Leader of the council Adreas Kirsch is enthusiastic about the plans.  He said: “I’m really, really excited that this project [is now taking] place and [taking] flight.  As a council, we want to transform this underused space into a new affordable workspace and creative hub, bringing new jobs and cultural offer[ings] to our residents.”

Indeed, the project is set to bring 500 new jobs to Kingston over the coming decade.

Mandy Weston, COO at Town Square Ltd, shares Kirsch’s excitement.  “We are preparing to create a welcoming community of start-ups and small businesses, which will be made easier thanks to the incredibly vibrant space,” she said.

“The way people work is changing, and so the way we offer workspaces must change with it. There’s a huge amount of potential to build something that means this change benefits Kingston.  By creating the environment for individuals and businesses to grow, the benefits ripple out to the wider community and local economy.”

Town Squares Ltd will provide business support and expert advice sessions within the space to boost entrepreneurial spirit and business growth.

Meanwhile, Creative Youth will use the space to encourage young people and the wider community to get into the arts by showcasing artists’ work and sharing expertise.

Archie O’Neill of the Creative Youth’s Community Learning and Participation team at Creative Youth told the Kingston Courier that the charity is consulting young people on how the space can best be utilised.  He said: “[The creative hub] will make way for community collaboration, become a space for young people to develop new skills, and provide a social setting to connect, create and experiment.

“Innovation, diversity and inclusion sit at the heart of the space; it will be multifunctional, with areas for performance, exhibitions, creative practice, socialising, community co-creation and more.”

The public space around the development will also be improved, most notably through better lighting outside the building to make it safer and more inviting. The wall around the space is also being lowered to improve accessibility. 

The Council is yet to announce exactly when the space will be formally opened.

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