This post was first published by My London on 05/03/2019.
Croydon’s Fairfield Halls revamp has gone £11m over budget
It’s largely to remove asbestos found unexpectedly in the building.
The cost of refurbishing Croydon’s Fairfield Halls has gone an astonishing £11 million over budget.
The project was expected to cost £30 million but it has now been revealed that the pricetag will be at least £41 million.
The revelation was made after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was submitted to Croydon Council by Councillor Robert Ward.
The Conservative ward member for Selsdon and Addington said: “Croydon Council say the costs will be met by the developer.
“But of course the developer is 100% owned by Croydon Council, so it is council taxpayers who will foot the bill.”
The revamp saw the venue in Park Lane close to the public in July 2016.
It was originally due to re-open last autumn, but delays in the work saw the re-opening pushed back.
It is now expected to open in September.
A response from the council said that works to Fairfield Halls are “funded by Brick by Brick under a cross subsidy model”.
The council-owned developer has been redeveloping land around the site.
As part of a revamp of the College Green area around the venue, five blocks of 425 flats could be built . This is double the number that was originally planned.
At a planning meeting on Thursday, February 28, head of construction at Brick by Brick Suzi Lane said initial estimates of how much money will go back from that scheme to Fairfield Halls is about £35m.
In a response to the FOI request, Croydon Council said the additional £11m will be met by Brick by Brick as the developers of the scheme.
How does the council explain the overspend?
It basically says the extra cost is due to removing asbestos from the building which was found when the building work started and was an unexpected cost.
It’s also decided to make the facilities better than was originally planned.
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, told MyLOndon: “Fairfield Halls is a hugely important project for Croydon. We absolutely want our regenerated arts centre to be the best it can be, and as the development has progressed, we have invested to upgrade the original designs, for example, creating two additional studio spaces. We also took the decision to completely remove all asbestos, ensuring the building can be enjoyed long into the future.
“All costs are being met by Brick by Brick, through the residential development on the surrounding College Green development. Proposals for additional housing will fund the additional investment, which does not come at any further cost to the taxpayer. Any changes to the residential proposals by Brick by Brick, or any other developers on the site, will be subject to our planning process.”
Brick by Brick said one of the reasons for the overspend was ‘additional specification requirements’ from operator BH Live and the council.
The developer’s chief executive Colm Lacey said: “The redevelopment of Fairfield Halls is aimed at returning the venue to its former glory.
“The development is on schedule and we look forward to the completion of the project later this year, with Fairfield Halls transformed into a modern concert and events venue, designed to attract world-class acts and become the focal point for Croydon’s creative and cultural scene.
“The cost of the construction work is fully funded by the development value from the surrounding land, where we are bringing forward revised plans for around 420 much-needed homes as part of our College Green development.”