FAIRFIELD HALLS SCHEME GETS FINANCIAL GO-AHEAD – but still needs planning permission
Plans to redevelop Fairfield Halls and “transform it into one of London’s leading arts venues as part of a new vibrant cultural and educational quarter for Croydon” have been given the go-ahead by Croydon council’s scrutiny committee.
The £30m overhaul of the ageing concert and theatre venue will now proceed to the planning stage after the original decision by cabinet in October was upheld.
This will see Fairfield Halls close for two years to allow a comprehensive redevelopment of the building, rather than a phased approach which would take longer and cost an additional £4.8m, as well as cause health and safety risks to the public due to the significant amount of construction work taking place.
“Under the plans, the venue’s 1,800 seat concert hall will retain its acoustic integrity, but will be fully refurbished to include new seating and modernised backstage and servicing areas” said a council spokesman.
The rest of the 1962 building, including the 755 seat Ashcroft theatre, will be refurbished to contain flexible performance and arts spaces.
A new mezzanine-level restaurant is also planned, alongside bar and seating areas on the ground floor leading to outside areas on the transformed College Green public square.
The overall cost of refurbishing Fairfield is an estimated £30m, with a net cost to the council of £12m, following the wider College Green development which will pay back the remainder of the council’s investment.
The College Green scheme includes hundreds of new homes, shops and restaurants, a new state-of-the-art building for Croydon College, and a revitalised public space with improved connections from East Croydon and the rest of the town centre.
The project team working on the scheme includes Rick Mather Architects, a practice known for its work on the Royal Festival Hall in central London and the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith, and local consultants Mott MacDonald.
Croydon’s cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning Cllr Alison Butler said: “The decision by scrutiny committee means our hugely exciting plans to transform Fairfield Halls into a premier arts venue and return it to its glory days can now move forward.
“Not doing anything would mean letting this iconic building fall further into disrepair, see reduced levels of funding and lose its ability to attract the right acts. “We simply cannot let this happen.
“While closing Fairfield Halls was not a decision we took lightly, we believe a faster redevelopment programme and the £4.8m saving achieved represents the best deal for Croydon residents. In addition, the health and safety risks and the fact Fairfield would be a major building site for three years means a phased closure would be the wrong option.” (Source: Croydon council press release)