The project was won in a small architectural competition in December 2003, took ten years to realise, and was officially opened on Wednesday 11 December 2013 by the Princess Royal.
The 126-year-old local charity moved back to Rushworth Street in summer 2013 after three years operating from temporary premises. The new building provides a purpose-designed community centre and 36 shared ownership homes, developed by Notting Hill Housing Trust, with two floors of space for the settlement's educational activities and services for older people.
Blackfriars Settlement is a charitable community foundation that offers a wide range of services to the local community in Blackfriars London. These include education focused on the needs of the community, activities for youth and seniors, language skills for those with limited English and computer skills as well as acting as a base for social projects. The Settlement was previously spread over three sites in accommodation that was in a poor condition and inadequate for this enterprising organisation.
Shepheard Epstein Hunter originally worked with Presentation Social Investment Agency to build the new settlement building financed by the construction of 36 flats above it - Presentation's role was taken over by Notting Hill Housing Trust. On a tight urban site, this was a difficult project with complex issues of light and overlooking.
The Princess Royal's first contact with the settlement was in 1969 when she visited its Nelson Square premises. This time she said that although local people's needs may have changed over the years, the need for accessible space for community activities remains. 'This building underlines the endurance of Blackfriars Settlement and its ability to adapt to the changing circumstances and continuing funding challenges,' said Mayor of Southwark Councillor Abdul Mohamed.