An update on the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls
Officers updated the Committee on the development of Croydon’s Fairfield Halls. The Committee learned that progress of the main contract work had completed which was accomplished in Fairfield Halls in June 2017. The main contractor, Vinci Construction Ltd, was on site undertaking construction work including removal of Asbestos and demolition work was underway. The Committee was shown a video evidencing the work completed to date.
Future plans outlined that during February to July 2018 the external work of the building, the roof top work fit in and commission would begin. Vinci Construction Ltd proposed to complete the work in November 2018. The Council was also within the original budget that they had set with Vinci Construction Ltd.
The Committee was impressed with the progress of the site and the plans for Fairfield Halls. In a discussion of the achievability and timing of the completion of Fairfield Halls, officers highlighted that the challenges had all been uncovered. The officer felt confident that the main challenges would be removed within the contingency budget. There had been ongoing discussion with the contractor following consideration of the technical challenges seen on site that included the condition of the concrete.
The Committee further learned that the potential forthcoming risks included the condition of the ground, the removal of concrete and the foundations in parts of the building that had been there for such a long time.
Planning permission allowed changes in getting equipment in to deliver the entertainment scheme. The team was working closely with BH Live to deliver a practical approach to the main concert hall and the Ashcroft Theatre, and to add an additional hoist to get on stage quicker, all of which would be cost effective. This major change mitigated the risk and lowered cost in the entire scheme. The BH Live team was to begin work on the fitting i.e. furniture, kitchen, IT equipment for the functioning of the building; and the operational work such as employment, marketing and communications, community engagement and hospitality. The Committee commended the update on timescale and budget.
The Committee was pleased to hear that there was disability access included in the planning to all areas in Fairfield Halls. The access included disability access to lifts, lobbies and doors with double access and all other amenities area.
The Committee was informed that Fairfield Halls was scheduled to be completed in November 2018 where the local community would see the opening in accordance to the operational plan. A full calendar for events in 2019 would be available as Fairfield Halls started its phased opening towards the end of 2018.
The BH Live presentation illustrated the vision of Fairfield Halls to which the new opening of the Halls would see better engagement with the community. The Halls would be good for the consumer and for business. Customer Service would also be delivered by means of a contact centre setting to convey better communication and quality with the community.
Officers from BH Live shared with the Committee that their vision was also around building community engagement by networking with a number of organisations such as schools, colleges, artists, buildings and having initial conversations getting to know what the local community would want to implement into the programme. Collaboration approaches had been made with Croydon College, The Brit School, Glenthorne School, Croydon Youth Theatre Organisation and Savvy Theatre Company. Their vision was also about the opportunity to attract different audiences attending different concessions inside the building including a VIP Experience, and as Croydon is a multicultural society, Fairfield Halls would need to appeal to audiences of all ages across a variety of genres. BH Live would also be keen to work very closely with Croydon Council to identify opportunities to develop and encourage more stakeholders to participate in the rebirth of Fairfield Halls.
The Committee learned that BH Live was a social enterprise, the more profit BH Live made the more money there would be to spend on other activities. There was a budget which had been allocated for outreach programmes. The Committee heard that there were many ideas that would be arranged and programmed for 2019. This included a new website with integrated ticket line and other innovative concepts to generate more income, such as own-branded coffee sold on site.
BH Live reassured the Committee that they were an ambitious organisation and had a great opportunity to be part of the recreation of Fairfield Halls. The officers recognised that many of the attendees to Fairfield Halls may go to eat or drink at the bar and as Fairfield Halls would be an entertainment venue from afternoon through to the evening, it would be a destination for members of the public to “hang out” or relax and observe, as well as attend for events. Lots of concepts had been taken and adapted into Fairfield Halls, and BH Live had spotted gaps in developing the opportunity to deliver a service. In view of that, the Venue Director would be leading on the management of the day-to-day operations, event programming, community engagement, events and business events.
Officers from BH Live highlighted that the affordability of tickets for events at Fairfield Halls had been considered to include discounted rates for the local community of the young and the more mature.
The Members of the Committee welcomed the presentation as it covered all areas including the engagement with the community which was now reassured. Members of the Committee wanted to see that the BH Live dates were being achieved and that more information on the final design of Fairfield Halls and the programme was received in due course.