This post was first published by My London on 18/02/2019.
Croydon arts hub Matthews Yard will be bulldozed to make way for new tower block
The community arts centre will move to a new home as it’s replaced by an eight-storey block of 55 flats.
There have been months of uncertainty over the future of Croydon ‘s community arts centre, Matthews Yard.
But now, its fate has finally been sealed.
A block of flats on the site of the centre has been given the go-ahead by Croydon Council.
The plans for an eight storey block of 55 flats were approved by the council’s planning committee on Thursday, despite many objections from people concerned about the plan.
What finally clinched it was the amount of affordable housing on board.
Back in August, a decision was pushed back because councillors were unhappy with the lack of affordable housing provided in the scheme.
So Regent Land and Development Ltd’s came back with an amended scheme which brought the affordable housing from 25% to 30%.
What’s the reaction been so far?
There were a total of 80 objections to the plans, plus two public comments in support.
There was also 6,000 people who signed a petition to save Matthews Yard.
The site is currently home to a conference centre, with the first floor of the building used by Folly’s End Fellowship Church, the basement by Matthews Yard and the retail unit by a 99p shop.
Objectors said they were unhappy about the loss of a community facility, disruption to the Surrey Street Market and a lack of parking for the residents.
But there was a positive spin, too
At Thursday’s meeting, when the plans were approved, Cllr Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport spoke up in support of the plan.
He said that welcoming well-known music venue Hoodoos to the development will mean it remains an important cultural hub.
Although the developers have now provided more affordable homes, some councillors were unhappy with the split of tenures.
Of the 18 units, just one will be offered at affordable rent, the rest will be shared ownership.
Cllr Paul Scott said: “Yes we would like to see more affordable rent but given the music use, which is really really important, the affordability of that needs to be taken into consideration.”
The plans were unanimously approved by the panel.
So, what will happen to Matthews Yard?
Speaking after the meeting Matthews Yard founder Saif Bonar was philosophical.
He said he was pleased the approved scheme included more affordable homes.
He said: “I am pleased in a round about way that the pressure we applied meant more affordable homes were included.
“You have to choose your battles and it was quite clear that they were going to win this one a long time ago.”
Now the venue is focusing on moving to a new location, he said.
A nearby alternative has been found but contracts are yet to be signed, he explained.
Once the development is given the green light by the Mayor of London, Matthews Yard will be given six months notice to move.
As compensation it will receive £28,000 – that’s equivalent to a year’s rent.
Last Friday, a new restaurant Vegan Grill came on board at the venue after Brgr&Beer moved out.