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Simon Rattle lends support to Croydon Fairfield Halls campaign

Simon Rattle conducting in 2013. Photo: Tristram Kenton Simon Rattle conducting in 2013. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Renowned conductor Simon Rattle has hit out at plans to close Fairfield Halls in Croydon for two years, saying it would be a “huge loss” to the entire country.

Rattle, who will become music director of London Symphony Orchestra next year, wrote a letter to Croydon Council, which is planning to close the arts complex for two years from July 15 while it undergoes a £30 million overhaul.

He claimed the redevelopment plans were “unclear” and did not specify a set reopening date – leaving the works open to delays and putting the creative hub at risk.

In his letter, Rattle said: “Without a guarantee of precisely when the hall would reopen and in what guise, this leaves the local and wider community with a huge number of concerns surrounding the longevity of this superb building.”

A petition by a local campaign group opposing the closure has reached more than 8,500 signatures. Save Our Fairfield Halls is instead proposing a phased refurbishment, allowing some of the centre’s buildings to remain open while others undergo building work.

Supporting these proposals, Rattle said: “There seems to be no significant reason why the improvements cannot be made slowly over time while maintaining the use of the hall as much as possible, thereby continuing its significant role in the lives of local people and wider audiences.”

He also stressed that the loss of the hall even for two years would be “a huge loss – not only to Croydon, but to the whole of the UK”.

“We cannot sit back and allow such a centre of expression, culture and community to be lost,” he concluded.

Last month the Theatres Trust also criticised the plans, saying that the vague summer 2018 reopening date could negatively affect the venue’s audience base and “long-term viability”.

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