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The studio community group are back in action - see this weeks newshopper page 8.

I wholeheartedly support this campaign and feel this is the last chance for the local community to reclaim this magnificant building which was constructed in 1903 for the cultural benefit of the people of Beckenham.

More details and a partition is available to sign at the PUBLIC HALL in Beckenham on Wednesday's from 3.30 - 8.00.

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For those who don't get the News Shopper newspaper here is the link:

BECKENHAM: Protest at Grade II listed Studio despite church renovat...
While I hope just as much as anyone local that The Studio will be returned to it's former glory and support any campaign to that purpose, six years have passed since the Council closed it and it doesn't look any more likely to reopen now than it has in the intervening years.

Sound-bites by interested parties have unfailingly included "eventually hopes to"s and "expected to be"s and "looking at the financial implications"... but nothing has happened other than the appearance of a big fence around the building so that the Council can't be sued for injuries caused by its deteriorating building.

Eventually the fabric of the building will be deemed to be so risky to the good citizens of Beckenham - and beyond saving - that it will have to come down, and thus a revenue-draining building will be transformed into a revenue-earning car park for the fitness centre and the station. An unfortunate accident on or around Bonfire Night will only make that happen sooner!
Interesting point and exactly why THE STUDIO COMMUNITY GROUP who have been campaigning since its closure are prompting urgent action as present circumstances appear to have created one LAST opportunity for Beckenham to save this building from an obvious fate.

I trust your support for the campaign will lead you to sign THE PETITION AT BECKENHAM PUBLIC HALL initially calling on Bromley Council to immediately fullfil its duty of care to this important but neglected building, and, thereafter to return it to the public use for which it was originally intended.
I asked the council for a repsonse to residents' concerns. (These should be read in the context that we wanted the building retained by the council for community use but the costs were not acceptable to the majority party):

I have become aware that there is some concern from the community. However, I have only heard about this indirectly. I understand the concerns are being raised by the Save the Studio Group, but they have not raised these with me or asked me anything about the current position, hence I am not entirely clear about the nature of the concerns.

Since the decision to accept Citygate’s bid on 20th May, I have met with Citygate (Chris Hammond) on 5 occasions and good progress is being made, albeit this is being made at a slower pace than hoped.

Citygate has been busy developing its proposals for the refurbishment. It initially sent in a draft schedule of works to the LBB Heritage team for comment. There has been feedback on this and I subsequently arranged a meeting on site to go through the proposals room by room. There is now a clear understanding of the work that is going to be undertaken by Citygate. Citygate’s architect has now undertaken a measured survey to produce floor plans and elevation drawings and this will enable Citygate to submit an application for Listed Building Consent. The target for this was originally the 18th September, but this has now slipped into October.

English Heritage has also recently inspected the building because it is on the “At Risk Register”. I have arranged for further clearance of the rain water goods and have given assurances to E H that we are maintaining the building satisfactorily. I have also arranged for renewal of the lightning conductor which was damaged during HJA’s tenure. No further deterioration of the building has occurred since we had the roof repaired last autumn.

Citygate is intending to commence work before Christmas. Its latest outline programme shows that it is planning to complete Stage 1 of the works by Easter. This will enable the building to reopen.

Citygate has no intention of doing this and clauses are included in the draft documentation to prevent this.

I think you can report that steady progress is being made. However, because of the nature of this building (i.e. its listed status), the community needs to understand that the due statutory process has to be complied with and therefore a degree of patience is required.


I hope this is helpful

Cllr John Getgood
Penge & Cator
Penge Farmers' Market: Maple Road, Penge. Every Saturday 10 am to 3 pm
Thank you for update, I have passed this information on to the save the studio group.

Zoe Hannam

MIDWEEK MICRO MARKET
Wednesdays 3.30 - 8.30
Beckenham Public Hall

Cllr John Getgood, Penge & Cator ward said:
I asked the council for a repsonse to residents' concerns. (These should be read in the context that we wanted the building retained by the council for community use but the costs were not acceptable to the majority party):

I have become aware that there is some concern from the community. However, I have only heard about this indirectly. I understand the concerns are being raised by the Save the Studio Group, but they have not raised these with me or asked me anything about the current position, hence I am not entirely clear about the nature of the concerns.

Since the decision to accept Citygate’s bid on 20th May, I have met with Citygate (Chris Hammond) on 5 occasions and good progress is being made, albeit this is being made at a slower pace than hoped.

Citygate has been busy developing its proposals for the refurbishment. It initially sent in a draft schedule of works to the LBB Heritage team for comment. There has been feedback on this and I subsequently arranged a meeting on site to go through the proposals room by room. There is now a clear understanding of the work that is going to be undertaken by Citygate. Citygate’s architect has now undertaken a measured survey to produce floor plans and elevation drawings and this will enable Citygate to submit an application for Listed Building Consent. The target for this was originally the 18th September, but this has now slipped into October.

English Heritage has also recently inspected the building because it is on the “At Risk Register”. I have arranged for further clearance of the rain water goods and have given assurances to E H that we are maintaining the building satisfactorily. I have also arranged for renewal of the lightning conductor which was damaged during HJA’s tenure. No further deterioration of the building has occurred since we had the roof repaired last autumn.

Citygate is intending to commence work before Christmas. Its latest outline programme shows that it is planning to complete Stage 1 of the works by Easter. This will enable the building to reopen.

Citygate has no intention of doing this and clauses are included in the draft documentation to prevent this.

I think you can report that steady progress is being made. However, because of the nature of this building (i.e. its listed status), the community needs to understand that the due statutory process has to be complied with and therefore a degree of patience is required.


I hope this is helpful

Cllr John Getgood
Penge & Cator
Penge Farmers' Market: Maple Road, Penge. Every Saturday 10 am to 3 pm
It's been pointed out to me that a line seems to have gone misisng from my report above. The penultimate paragraph in the response from the one of the council's property officers should read: There seems to be a rumour going round that Citygate intends to use the building for religious purposes. This was discussed at length by the working group. Citygate has no intention of doing this and clauses are included in the draft documentation to prevent this.

Apologies,

Cllr John Getgood
Penge & Cator
Interesting points : -

'DRAFT DOCUMENTATION', was this clause included in the FINAL DOCUMENTATION or is this still with lawyers ?

If Citygate are not going to use the Studio for 'religious purposes', which is their business, I cannot understand how they can use this building as a business asset, without renting space to other organisations !

Please enlighten me ....
Zoe Hannam
The clause is in the final documantaiton. Citygate see this venture as an extension of their work in the community rather than a business asset.

Zoe Hannam said:
Interesting points : -

'DRAFT DOCUMENTATION', was this clause included in the FINAL DOCUMENTATION or is this still with lawyers ?

If Citygate are not going to use the Studio for 'religious purposes', which is their business, I cannot understand how they can use this building as a business asset, without renting space to other organisations !

Please enlighten me ....
Zoe Hannam
Their business to promote their religious beliefs to the wider community, any building in my opinion is an asset to any business whether a church or a community organisation.

The council has therefore disposed of the studio lease to CITYGATE to extend THEIR WORK in OUR COMMUNITY for the benefit of THEIR COMMUNITY. Lets hope they have the resources to reinstate The Studio, so at least the wider community can see it being put to use !
Cllr John Getgood, Penge & Cator ward said:
"Citygate see this venture as an extension of their work in the community rather than a business asset."

You seem to miss Zoe's point: Religion is Citygate's business.

IMO, "extending their work in the community" translates to "recruiting insidiously via the Arts". Religious fundamentalism dressed up as something hip, young and arty - scary.

Indeed, how can Citygate run The Studio as a community project, if Bromley Council themselves cannot?

What if a community group that didn't fit with Citygate's religious ethos (eg. a Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgender group) wanted to meet/stage events at The Studio? Could you give assurances that Citygate wouldn't discriminate?
I'm not here to defend Citygate; my prefered option was always for the council to take on their responsibility for the Studio. The reason Citygate can run it and the council cannot is that the the majority group on the council do not want to spend council tax payers' money supporting community venues while Citygate are willing to use their's. However, if Citygate use the building to recruit or to promote their religion, or if they discriminate, they will break the legal agreement. I would certainly support any action taken against them if that happened. However, I am encouraged to hear that communication between Citygate and the Studio group has now started so hopefully we can look forward to genuine community invovlemnt in the way the new Studio dvelops.
A further update from the council:

The Planning department has just received Citygate’s application for Planning Permission and listed building consent for alterations. I am advised that a decision should be made within 8 weeks. We are meeting Citygate shortly to discuss the outstanding issues on the legal documentation so, subject to this being finalised, it is anticipated that Citygate could start work in February.

Cllr John Getgood
Penge & Cator

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