Croydon BID, the town centre business group, has appointed Neil Chandler, recently hired as the venue director of the Fairfield Halls, as its new chairman.
That could be bad news for the Fairfield Halls, which was supposed to re-open after a £30million refurbishment this July. Latest estimates are that the Halls will not be ready to re-open until early in 2019.
The building works are being coordinated by Brick by Brick, the council’s wholly owned housing developer.
“You’d think that now might be a super-busy period for Neil, overseeing the completion of the works and the fitting out of the Halls, while also juggling the demands of delivering a knock-out series of attractions for when the Halls re-opens,” a Town Hall source said this morning.
“Being chairman of Croydon BID isn’t a huge task, but the fact that Neil feels able to take that on at this time suggests perhaps he’s got some time on his hands. Does that mean we can expect further delays to the re-opening date?”
The Fairfield Halls, in what council marketing experts call “The Cultural Quarter”, was to have been central to Croydon’s plans if awarded the London Borough of Culture status for 2019. In the event, Croydon didn’t even make the top eight.
Another source described the BID chairmanship as “an astute move” by Chandler.
“It places him, and the Fairfield Halls, at the centre of business in Croydon,” they said. In addition to drama and music performances, BH Live, the Halls new operators, will be seeking to use the venue, which includes the Arnhem Gallery and Ashcroft Theatre, for a range of money-spinning conferences and business events.
Croydon BID is the grouping of businesses based in the town centre. Chandler succeeds Andrew Bauer, the Whitgift Shopping Centre director, who has been chair since 2013.
Like all appointments to the Croydon BID board, the position is unpaid.
In a statement from Croydon BID, they said that Chandler “… will work with the Croydon BID Board and five-strong executive team on the development of strategies and plans that meet the collective needs of the town centre business community during the exciting and challenging period of Croydon’s regeneration”. That’s believed to be a reference to the coming of Westfield, and the £1.4billion supermall that was due to be completed in… 2017. Latest best-guess is that Westfield and partners Hammerson might start work on the shopping centre in 2019.
The press release continued: “All of Croydon BID’s work is funded through a levy collected from eligible businesses within the area. As a result, since Croydon BID was first formed in 2007, it has invested in excess of £15million on projects and services designed to make the town centre a safer, cleaner, more attractive, more accessible and more vibrant place to be.”
Chandler is supposed to have said, “I will be taking over the reins at an extremely crucial and exciting time in the town centre’s development and firmly believe that the many new and exciting challenges that lie ahead will provide a fantastic opportunity to galvanise the business and local communities together in the bid to reach our common goal: a thriving and successful town centre and a destination of which we are all truly proud.”
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