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Southwark fights to keep Design Museum

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Southwark Council could offer the Design Museum new sites to stop a move to the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington

Southwark Council is putting up a fight to try and stop the Design Museum leaving its current home near Tower Bridge and moving to the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington, west London.

Last week, the AJ revealed the museum was in detailed talks with developer Chelsfield Partners about relocating across the capital to the Grade II*-listed 1960s icon in Holland Park, as part of Rem Koolhaas’ proposed overhaul of the site.

But Southwark, the local authority in which the Design Museum’s existing Shad Thames home sits, has admitted it does not want the ‘cultural icon’ to leave and is understood to have suggested other ‘larger’ plots elsewhere in the borough.

Councillor Lewis Robinson, the executive member for culture, leisure and sports, said: ‘The council is aware of the Design Museum's ambition to expand and relocate from their current premises and is working with the museum to identify options which would enable this cultural icon to stay in Southwark.’

However, the statement may have come too late to stop the move. A spokesman for the Design Museum countered: ‘At the moment the opportunity offered by the Commonwealth Institute is more concrete.

He added: ‘Our priority is to find the best possible solution for the proposed new Design Museum and we are ruling nothing out.’

It is not the first time the museum has eyed a move from Shad Thames.

Back in 2006, former museum director Alice Rawsthorn approached the Tate Modern with a view to building a larger facility behind the London gallery, but the deal fell through following Rawsthorn's departure.

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