Whilst supportive of the need to revitalise Fairfield Halls and many of the alterations proposed, the Theatres Trust urges the Council to re-consider a number of aspects including:
- the need to involve the future theatre/venue operator at the design stage
- a staged refurbishment keeping part of the Halls open during the wider construction period to maintain some level of cultural offer for local residents.
- the access arrangements in the service yard and the relationship between the Halls and building 7 (the College) to ensure the venue can continue to be viable into the future.
The Trust wrote to the Council on 5 April.
The Importance of having an operator involved
The ‘Trust is concerned the scheme is being advanced, and significant capital has been committed, without the involvement of a theatre/venue operator. The Council must be sure the scheme meets the needs of the end user, particularly if a commercial operator is to be sought otherwise the viability of the Halls in the long run may be compromised. The Trust strongly recommends a new operator is selected, or the existing operator is retained, and is involved in the design before proceeding with the scheme.’
‘The loss of existing expertise and audiences puts incredible pressure on the new operators to rebuild that audience base upon reopening, further affecting the venues’ long term viability.’
The Theatres Trust is the national advisory public body for theatres. We champion the past, present and future of live theatre, by protecting the buildings and what goes on inside. It was established through the Theatres Trust Act 1976 ‘to promote the better protection of theatres’ and provide statutory planning advice on theatre buildings and theatre use in England through The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (DMPO), requiring the Trust to be consulted by local authorities on planning applications which include ‘development involving any land on which there is a theatre’.
The Campaign Petition
So far over 7,000 people have signed the petition organised by Andy Hylton. Its preamble states:
‘Whilst whole heartedly supporting the much needed redevelopment of the Fairfield Halls, Save Our Fairfield is petitioning Croydon Council to overturn their decision to close the venue for a minimum two year period (although this is as yet unquantifiable given the nature of the Council’s plans) and approve a phased redevelopment programme that has the foundation of a strong operational plan for the venue’s future at its heart.
This would allow continuity of quality arts programming in the Borough whilst removing huge elements of risk and uncertainty in the Council proposal.’
The full justification is set out in the petition and can be read at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-fairfield-halls-1
The petition will be presented at the Council meeting on 18 April.
The Theatre Trust letter can be downloaded at: