Outrage as Council exceeds Fairfield Halls refurbishment budget by £11m

Fairfield Halls

Fairfield Halls before the refurbishment. Pic: Jim Linwood

An £11 million overspend in the refurbishment of Croydon’s Fairfield Halls has been criticised by the Conservative opposition.

The refurbishment by Croydon Council owned developer Brick by Brick had an original budget of £30 million. A Freedom of information (FOI) request submitted to the council by Conservative Councillor Robert Ward revealed on March 4, that they had actually spent £41 million on the revamp.

Croydon Conservatives told EastLondonLines: “Since the project began it has been beset with delay after delay and it is running 18 months behind schedule. We now find it is not only late, but will cost the taxpayer an additional £11m on top of the original £30 million budgeted cost.”

“The developer for this project is a council owned entity, Brick by Brick which has a track record of non-delivery […] it should be no surprise to the labour administration that Brick by Brick has failed on this project.”

Meanwhile residents expressed their anger via Twitter. They highlight the current climate of some of the communities feelings towards the councils spending.

One Twitter user, @operacreep told EastLondonLines it’s become a “total mismanaged mess.”

Some complaints highlighted the projects delay, as well as the overspending and the lack of public outcry for a new hall from the outset.

Ward,  the Conservative councillor for Selsdon and Addington Village, tracked the progression of the building from its planning stages and wrote blogs for the Croydon Citizen regarding the refurbishment.

The hall was set to open November 2018 and the delay spurred him to request the information. 

Ward believes the Halls’ refurbishment vital to Croydon: “Fairfield Halls is crucial for Croydon’s future really, it’s the big thing that will make a difference for us.”

“Fairfield halls is quite a big part of Croydon’s identity, it was getting dilapidated for some time, there just comes a point where you do have to do something.”

Ward made the request because he felt it was “important” for people to know, he didn’t expect the overspend would be so large: “£11 million is a heck of a lot of money and we could have done an awful lot of other things with it. So it is the issue of the moment but come September I hope we can start to be more positive about the Fairfield.” 

Regardless of the halls delay and refurbishment, he urges people to look forward to the new hall and look to the future”: “I’ve been around the building since and I’m very confident it will open in September.” 

“At that point, we have to put all of this stuff behind us and make it a success.”

 A spokesman for Croydon Council told EastLondonLines: “Fairfield Halls is a hugely important project for Croydon. We absolutely want our regenerated arts centre to be the best it can be and we also want to ensure it can be enjoyed long into the future. For this reason, we took the decision to completely remove all asbestos from the building.

“Also, as the development progressed, we invested to upgrade the original designs, for example, creating two additional studio spaces.

“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.”

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