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I thought readers of this site would be interested to know that an advert will appear next week asking for expressions of interest in taking over the old Studio building by Beckenham Library. The history of the site is far too complex to go into now, though I can answer specific questions. However, working with Reg Adams from Clock House ward, we have secured an agreement from the council that the site will continue to be used primarily for arts, education and community use. The challenge will be finding an organisation that can fulfil that brief and has the financial background to take on the refurbishment and running of the building. Some commercial use may be inevitable. What has been been made clear, however, is that the council will not be putting any money into the project. If anyone knows an individual or organisation that can come to the rescue of the Studio, please ask them to get in touch. This fine building and community asset needs an appropriate use.

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Comment by Cllr John Getgood, Penge & Cator ward on August 17, 2010 at 19:33
Hello Tracie,

I find it very confusing that there are two blogs or discussions going on The Studio. A design fault I think. I wonder if the moderator can combine them as happenes on Virtual Norwood?

I do hope that the community and City Gate can start talking to each other. We'll have to see what arises from the planning committee's deferal. I was part of the committee that agreed that CityGate were the best option for the Studio. The papers that were submitted and the following interviews (there were three potential groups) were confidential so I cannot go into detail. I can assure the community though that only City Gate had the resources to repair and maintain the building and offer some use to the community. As I have always said, I fought afor long time to try to persuade the council to run the Studio themselves but it was never an option for the majority party.
Comment by Tracie Anderson on August 17, 2010 at 18:23
Cllr Getgood. May I first thank you for your continued support on this issue and contributions to Zoe H's initial discussion & this blog. I am a counsellor & artist in Bromley who has recently joined a project in Beckenham & was horrified when I noticed this issue was still going on. Could I just ask for some clarification regarding the ACAVA (sorry if this spelling is incorrect) planning application proposal? Whilst speaking to the Chief Executive on Monday I briefly touched on this but we only had 15 minutes & my main query was regarding something else. From what I have heard this was a much more detailed plan than Citygate put forward not to mention they have far more experience in these kind of issues? May I also concur with your comments at the meeting last week that we must find a way to expediate matters and compromise before this beautiful building falls into further decay.
Comment by Zoe Hannam on October 8, 2009 at 9:44
Garnet Frost who has been leading the campaign for the studio since its closure has asked me to post this letter sent to the Council on 17/9/09 : -

Dear Sir,

On the 19th August, I phoned Bromley Council, in order to voice my concerns about The Studio - the former arts centre at 28 Beckenham Rd.

I was directed to the Conservation Officer, who assured me that her department was fully aware of the seriousness and urgency of this issue. Indeed, she said that 'everybody' on the Council was committed to the preservation and protection of the building.

She seemed surprised when I remarked that several of the downstairs windows had recently been broken - presumably by vandals throwing stones. However, she replied by saying that she would report this matter to the Property Division straightaway, and thanked me for my call.

Four or Five weeks have passed since then. And still the broken windows glint their ugly rays, like broken promises somehow. This sadly, but succinctly, signifies the Council's attitude to Heritage - this is nothing short of a disgrace, I defy the Council (anybody on it) to honestly repudiate my word.

Yours truly

GARNET FROST

p.s. This is not the responsibility of City Gate. The Council are the owners of this listed building, and it is the Council that we call upon to act.
Comment by Heather Roberts on October 8, 2009 at 1:06
Hear hear Zoe! When it comes to the council, the simple truth is money talks, not social interest. As an atheist, I very much doubt the Citygate church would welcome my presence at their non-religious dance studio. Did the council check that Muslim, Hindu, Catholic and people of other faiths will be allowed to use the facilities without being preached at? How will the council check that this site remains religiously unbiased? Let's face it, it will be a religious recruitment centre. Somewhat cultish if you ask me.
Comment by Zoe Hannam on May 26, 2009 at 13:04
The Bournemouth site shows a more indepth vision of the organisation and links to their affiliations, I am trusting the council has carried out an indepth research of this organisation, before entering into financial discussions ?
Comment by Cllr John Getgood, Penge & Cator ward on May 26, 2009 at 12:41
No need to go to Bournemouth. The Beckenham church have their own site: http://www.citygatechurch.co.uk/index.php?Home
Comment by Zoe Hannam on May 26, 2009 at 12:33
POWERFUL STUFF, about to dominate the hub of our community via the council.
Comment by Jon Clarke on May 26, 2009 at 11:20
Just in case anyone wonders who Citygate are - This a Citygate Church website I found operating in Bournemouth, which sheds some light on the organisation and their affiliations.
Comment by Zoe Hannam on May 26, 2009 at 10:30
All church services are available to the whole community and what assurances have been received regarding religious meetings? Citygate has their own community, this building would serve these individuals well and indeed act as a powerful marketing tool to recruit new members into their community. By assigning the lease to a religious organisation such as Citygate whose philsophy and ethos is evidently the driving force behind all these activities, it will not be a centre available to all the community. Before disposing of the Studio I trust the council has fully investigated this organisation and considered the long term implications this could have on our community as a whole.
Comment by Cllr John Getgood, Penge & Cator ward on May 24, 2009 at 10:17
I have just added this to my own blog site (www.pengeandcatorcouncillors.co.uk):

The council’s Executive agreed the next stage of the borough’s disposal of the Studio, opposite Beckenham Library on Wednesday. They have agreed to accept a proposal from Citygate Church, which operates from the old Beckenham sorting office. Officers have been authorised to enter into details terms of the lease to enable the building to be brought back into use as soon as possible.

The financial terms of the deal remain confidential. Citygate’s proposal involves providing and operating a community facility to include dance studios, recording studio, music practice rooms, drama workshops, an auditorium, mother and toddler groups, a counselling and psychiatric practice, youth groups, a rehearsal room, café and a computer room. Its services are to be available to the whole community. Assurances have been received that the building will not be used for religious meetings.

Although I always argued that the best option for the Studio was for it to remain in public ownership as a council run facility, this was never likely to be agreed by the majority group. At least the building is not being turned over to commercial operators.

Hopefully an agreement between the council and Citygate will be reached soon and the people of the north west of the borough can again use this important community facility.

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