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Fairfield Halls to close for two years in £30m revamp

Designs for the redeveloped Fairfield Halls. Photo: Rick Mather Architects Designs for the redeveloped Fairfield Halls. Photo: Rick Mather Architects
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Croydon arts centre Fairfield Halls is to close for two years to allow for a £30 million transformation of the building and site.

The venue’s managing charity, Fairfield, has now agreed to proposals put forward by Croydon Council last year, which will see a full refurbishment of the 1,800-seat concert hall and the creation of new, adaptable spaces for theatre and other performances.

In order for work to go ahead, Fairfield Halls will close on July 15 for two years, and is expected to reopen again in summer 2018.

Fairfield had previously favoured a phased development, which would have allowed the building to remain open and performances to continue throughout improvement works to the building.

Tony Newman, leader of the council, said that closing the venue was “the best possible option”, as the major redevelopment of the building was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity”.

He also claimed the centre would become “one of the most prestigious arts and entertainment venues in the country”.

Newman continued: “We’re delighted to have reached a position that is in the best interest of both [the council and Fairfield]. We’ve been working alongside the board to help secure funding to support the process for a managed closure. We’re both in full agreement that everyone working at Fairfield is treated fairly and properly.

“Fairfield served the 20th century proudly and we will ensure that it will do the same in the 21st century, and for generations to come,” he added.

It is unclear whether the venue will continue to be managed by the same team when it reopens, though Fairfield chair Kate Vennell claimed the council promised to “engage the Fairfield charity in the future operations”.

She explained: “The council has been clear that it wants a rapid project and although we preferred phasing to allow continuing programme and community access, we appreciate its support for a managed closure.

“The council has reassured us it will start work immediately, deliver a high-quality project and engage the Fairfield charity in the future operations.”

Over the two years of closure, Fairfield will continue its work programming plays for schools and encouraging young people to engage with arts and culture.

Vennell added: “I want to take this opportunity to recognise the achievements of Simon Thomsett, CEO of Fairfield, and our talented team, which was reflected in record attendances through Christmas 2015. We can feel proud that we’re going out on a high.”

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