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Plans revealed for new arts centre in former Catford social club

Artist impression of the proposed arts centre in Catford
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Plans have been revealed for a new multi-purpose arts centre within a disused social club in south London.

The proposals are from the Chronic Love Foundation, which is the organisation behind the regeneration of the Bussey Building in Peckham, also known as the CLF Art Cafe.

Located within the former Brookdale Club in Catford, the new arts complex would include an 182 square metre, multi-purpose space with a capacity of 150 to 200, which would be used for a range of creative projects including promenade theatre, jazz concerts and cabaret.

The plans also include a smaller space, seating 80, intended for fringe theatre, comedy, spoken word and other events, as well as a bar and cafe, artist residences, office space and recording studios.

CLF hopes to “bring the post-war building back into the 21st century” and “fill a creative void” in Catford’s arts scene.

If planning permission is granted, part of the complex will open in autumn this year, with the rest of the building opening in 2020.

Executive creative director of CLF, Mickey Smith, said: “Catford’s a great place – it’s got great people, but I think it’s just a little bit hungry in terms of having places to go, very much like Peckham was 15 years ago.

“For us it’s about building a platform for local, emerging, as well as established, artists to perform in Lewisham and be the vehicle that people can drive into new realities with.

“Even if that’s just coming for a drink and having a chat, or it’s inspired by a play, I think every community needs places where people can come together and express themselves.”

Smith said that CLF aims to provide “as many spaces as possible in the building to do as many diverse types of things as possible”.

The Theatres Trust has welcomed the proposals.

National planning adviser Tom Clarke said: “We are increasingly seeing applications come through for theatre and performance venues within vacant spaces of different types, particularly in town centres.

“We welcome buildings being repurposed in this way, which not only provides greater diversity of theatre spaces, but helps support our town centres. We know that cultural venues bring people in, which then attracts other businesses, making our towns more vibrant.”

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