Rescue and renovate the OB in a phased, organic approach over 5-10 years

We aim to take it out of the 34-year cycle that has witnessed repeated speculative profits despite social and economic failure and kickstart a shift from zero productivity to intensive economic and social productivity.

We wish to create a building of multiple uses/users with strong connectivity within the building, as part of the ecosystem of community-led buildings in the immediate area (Rock House, 12 Claremont, 39 Cambridge Rd, Alley, caves, etc), and with stakeholders throughout the wider neighbourhood and community.

There are three main types of use:

  • workspace – ranging from co-working space, ‘work-boxes’ for creative and tech micro-enterprises, to large artist studio spaces
  • homes – capped-rent homes which might be individual flats or clusters of shared accommodation for people in housing need with a local connection and the enthusiasm to make a contribution to the social and physical upkeep of the building and the neighbourhood
  • leisure – including food & drink, events, games/adventure, and potentially a travellers hostel/residential training centre.


We are committed to maximising the learning, sharing and life-changing opportunities presented by the redevelopment and the future uses of the building.

We believe it is possible to improve the neighbourhood without destroying its unique character or displacing current residents and businesses, by ensuring there will always be affordable spaces for living, working and community action.

WRNV is entrepreneurial and agile and very well-connected. We take the risks that are needed in the early years in order to create stable-state community assets for the long term.

All our work aims to remove buildings from the dominant ownership model which prioritises owner profits over dweller interest and control. Instead of a focus on extractive rent and capital asset growth we offer capped rents and community self-management.

We use a phased organic approach to development as in our successful redevelopment of Rock House, which saw the spaces coming to life from vacant possession in October 2014 to successful, profitable and sustainable by April 2018. This approach allows for fundraising in phases over time, provides revenue streams at the earliest possible stage by progressing floor by floor (see below diagram) and gives incoming tenants the chance to shape the space and become part of the development team.

This is an ambitious and exciting project at the dynamic cutting edge of alternative regeneration and place-based thinking


You can read our manifesto, latest business plan, floor plans showing the proposed uses for the Observer Building and a regularly updated FAQ based on your questions.

Please bear in mind that the plans are flexible and evolving, but we will endeavour to share updates to them as often as possible. If you have questions about them please don’t hesitate to get in touch.