Protect Lewisham Way Youth & Community Centre for Lewisham's community

A planning application has been submitted to change the centre to commercial business use

Still from Lewisham Guns, 2007. Courtesy of YouTube / Freorganisation. 157,000+ views

138 Lewisham Way was a Youth and Community Centre' for 45 years.

  • The site's permitted (legal) use remains 'local community' (F2b).
  • The site's Freeholder remains Lewisham Council.

It was a place of refuge and joy for young black people during the 1970s, 1980s and beyond.

"On Friday evenings there was the occasional dance where huge sound systems were bought in. The photographer John Goto remembers the physical impact of the baselines vibrating through the floor. Most of the attendees were regular members of the youth centre, though not all."

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Dr. Lez Henry   Learn more
ppeople in a youth centre

"This is a really important part of our community."

Julie Wanstall

Some of the historic eduction, research and community outputs and programmes of 138 Lewisham Way:

  • Community Choir
  • Music Production
  • Black Women’s Group
  • Women’s mentoring
  • Mentoring Group
  • Young Father’s Group
  • Stop n Soup
  • Numeracy and Literacy
  • Heritage Classes
  • Family Support
  • Black Father’s Support Group
  • GEMS Group
  • Mentoring
  • Discovering Science
people in a community centre

"This was an important part of my childhood. Regular Drama classes, and so much more. The community is at risk if you do not have a place to go to, and this community (centre) has saved many lives."

Angie Le Mar

So, why is the community centre being used as private offices?


Plans to change the Community Centre's use, 2017. Courtesy of House of Noise Ltd. / Instagram.

Lewisham Council has not enforced the terms of their leasehold. The community centre remains exclusively operated as private offices and business premises. This misuse is oppressive, genetrating a negative force for mental-wellbeing in the community.

Lewisham is diminished when communities are excluded from the spaces they've created and maintained. Significant cultural legacies are being disconnected from their living potential. 2022 is Lewisham's year as Borough of Culture, but for who?

There was, is and will remain desire for local community use of 138 Lewisham Way

Reuben Thurnhill

Community Centre before

Community Centre after

Questions of Lewisham Council

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  • Over 300 Lewisham residents have spoken out. Does Lewisham hear them?

  • What gives Lewisham confidence this is "specific to the needs of the local community"?

  • Did Lewisham seek further local community operations for the centre before signing the lease?

  • Is youth and community space civic infrastructure or a commercial asset?

  • Does the Director of Culture, Libraries and Learning support this proposed change of use to commercial?

  • Does the Regeneration and Place team support this proposed change of use to commercial?

  • Was there a Feasibility Study?

  • Do the lessees have a Business plan?

  • The lessees have been operating for several years. Is there evidence of community use, or of social and economic benefit?

  • What evidence is there for a "local demand for flexible office workspace"?

  • A landmark was destroyed with the removal of the building's "Lewisham Way Youth and Community Centre" fascia without permission. Will enforement action be taken to replace it?

  • The large back hall was demolished. Did this have planning permission?

  • External and internal alterations have taken place without permission. Will enforcement action be taken?

  • The commercial leasehold was advertised 'subject to planning permission'. But sold without. Why?

Sign the petition to protect the Community Centre