Council confirms Fairfield Halls will not open before Nov 2018

Jo Negrini, the council’s chief executive, may like to pretend to her property speculator mates that refurbishment work on the Fairfield Halls is “on track”, but even her own officials are now admitting that Croydon’s major performing arts centre will not be ready to re-open before November 2018 – five months later than was promised.

Warped vision: works on the Fairfield Halls, including the Arnhem Gallery and Ashcroft Theatre, is running five months behind the promised schedule

Warped vision: refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls, including the Arnhem Gallery and Ashcroft Theatre, is running five months behind schedule

The November 2018 re-opening date was provided in an official Croydon Council response to a Freedom of Information request last week, and amounts to the most definitive answer yet to the much-asked question.

The Fairfield Halls closed for a much-needed and long-overdue £30million refurbishment last July, when the council said that the project would take two years. So in the space of six months, progress has already slipped by five months, despite repeated assurances from Negrini and Timothy Godfrey, the councillor in charge of the borough’s arts provision.

Part of the delay is undoubtedly in the planning process, as the scheme is only now being put forward for formal permission at the next planning committee meeting, being held at the Town Hall next Thursday.

How Croydon Council has mapped out a much-reduced future for Croydon

How Croydon Council has mapped out a much-reduced future for Croydon College in the document submitted for planning permission next week

The 86-page application is unhelpfully entitled “Land Bounded by George Street, Park Lane, Barclay Road”. Presumably some petty council official thinks it might be too easy for the public to discover a planning document called “Fairfield Halls and College Green”, and reckons the people of Croydon are too stupid not to find it anyway.

You can see the whole thing as a pdf document by clicking here.

The document confirms that Croydon College is to be much reduced in size, with significant parts of the land it presently occupies and some of College Green being handed over to the council-owned house-building company, Brick by Brick, to build town-centre Yuppie flats.

The profits from the sale of those homes may go to subsidise the Fairfield Halls refurbishment costs. Provided, of course, that the bottom doesn’t drop out of the residential property market at some point in the next few, post-Brexit years.

The council recently got a £14million boost for elements of the scheme – to link the halls through to East Croydon’s transport hub – in a grant from the Coast to Capital organisation, where one of the decision-making board members is Tony Newman, Croydon’s council leader.

February 2016, and Croydon Council leader Tony Newman is promising delivery of the refurbished Fairfield Halls in

February 2016, and in a press release featuring council leader Tony Newman the promise is of a “two-year closure”. Which is less than two years and five months

Whether that will be enough to overcome the negative publicity around the delay in completing the Fairfield Halls work is unlikely, though.

The Labour group which controls the Town Hall has already suffered considerable political damage over the Fairfield Halls scheme, despite the significant investment in a cherished Croydon institution, after they opted for a complete closure, making the Halls staff redundant, rather than a phased programme of works, because doing it this way would be cheaper, and quicker.

From July 2016

From July 2016, and again a Croydon Council press release states that the Fairfield Halls will “re-open in the summer of 2018”. In November 2018, it will be summer, but in Australia

Repeatedly last year – here from February 2016 and here, from July, just as the Halls closed – Newman and Godfrey put their names to council press releases which stressed that the work would take just two years, with Fairfield Halls due to re-open in the summer of 2018.

And who’s to say that there won’t be further hold-ups in the work on the Halls which could jeopardise the lucrative 2018 Panto season?

Maybe when the council said the Halls would re-open in “summer 2018”, the confusion was with Negrini, who comes from Australia, where it is the summer in November.

The Fairfield Halls delays will come as an embarrassment as well as a disappointment to Newman, Godfrey and their Croydon Labour colleagues, who will not be able to point to the Fairfield over the months before the next local elections, in May 2018, to demonstrate its delivery.

And the council’s recently adopted new slogan? “Delivery”.


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2018 council elections, Ashcroft Theatre, Brick by Brick, College Green, Croydon Council, Fairfield Halls, Housing, Jo Negrini, Planning, Timothy Godfrey, Tony Newman and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Council confirms Fairfield Halls will not open before Nov 2018

  1. I have written before querying their very optimistic programme. Seems like they now agree with me. Shame for the residents and the delay must be adding to the costs and also delaying income from the future operations. Experienced construction professionals are cautious on programme and deliver early rather than optimistic and deliver late. The same caution should apply to budgets.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Its all becoming a little bit Trump reality, isn’t it?
    According to Official Sources:
    Hammersfield will open in 2019/20/21/22/23/24/Never.
    Take your choice. Whatever you choose, you will have been misinformed by the lying media.
    Wellesley Road will be completed by 2019/20/21/22/23/24/Never.
    Take your choice. Whatever you choose, you will have been misinformed by the lying media.
    The Fairfield Hall and College Green project will be completed by 2019/20/21/22/23/24/Never. Take your choice. Whatever you choose, you will have been misinformed by the lying media.
    The Tramlink loop will be will be completed by 2019/20/21/22/23/24/Never.
    Take your choice. Whatever you choose, you will have been misinformed by the lying media.
    None of these will cause any disruption or discomfort to our citizens and our current rulers.
    This is 100% correct/false depending on where you get your misinformation.
    Jo Negrini and her minions will continue to take pointless jollies in nice places at our expense forever. In this you have not been misinformed.
    All the millions of flats already for sale, being built and in the planning stage will be sold without any difficulties or problems. This you can only believe this if you have the IQ of a cornflake.
    Brexit will make us all happier, richer, more content. Ditto.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mikebweb says:

    Funny, really, if you can call it that, we pay professionals eye watering amounts of an annual salary, yes those who live hear seem to know better and can predict the actual results of Council proposals with much more accuracy! Nobody ever thought, outside the Council, that the Fairfield would be done within their time scale, and its true, Don’t hold your breath for a Panto in 2018 other than in the Town Hall Gardens or more likely the Council Chamber!!! Its even predictable that somebody will be a Panto season and the place not be ready and the council will have to pay compenation!

    I was in the Whitgift Centre today, via Allders. The place is disgusting – Allders cannot afford heating and only provide minimum lighting, the toilets are closed and locked and many shops are just empty. Granted the M&S end is better. but even there the lighting is not fully used, so the place looks and feels unwanted.

    This was our showpiece – now its Purley Way and many people predict it will never return!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. davidjl2014 says:

    With luck, Jo Negrini will be history by 2018, and hopefully will have left Croydon for good. Politically, it will be our gain and someone else’s lose.

    Like

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