First impression: From the outside you would never have known this was an "Open day" - no signage, no pomp or ceremony, not even a bunch of balloons. I located an open door and entered 25 CR at 11am. There were two people in the reception-come caff-come IT area. I introduced myself and was directed to the main auditorium and the representative who was fielding questions.
He was engaged in heated debate with a group of inquisitors - I took the opportunity to explore the building before seeking his counsel. Firstly I was struck by the v serious technical kit. Standing speakers nearly as tall as me either side of the stage, right by the fire exits. I'm no sound proofing expert but I do know main leakage points are doors and windows - no wonder Patterson Rd residents were disturbed by the recent sound testing.
There are amps on the ceiling both above the stage and at the back of the first row of seating. I counted a total of 22 amps and mobile monitors. When I asked about the size of this kit and it's implication I was told it was nothing to worry about as a limiter had been installed and the building soundproofed.
The chunky fire escape that scales the side of the building is very very noise and as the building heated up the door leading directly on to the fire escape was propped open. The air con was either not switched on or useless. I can see why Gala used to prop all fire exits open during the summer months.
Upstairs there is fixed seating for 293 people. i sat in the back row and was reminded of a recent Easy Jet flight - me knees were squashed against the back of the chair in front. The fixed seating had been removed from the last two rows at the back - the wings of the venue spread to accommodate maximum capacity.
The main auditorium had 377 removable seats in one section, by far the largest floor space was standing room only.
Total of 670 seats.
Be interesting to see how the space is utilized on 25th to accommodate the 1200 attendees for the business conference.
Citizen M (CM): Hello I'm xxxx, local resident and I'm hoping to find out exactly what the plans are for this building.
Offers outstretched hand and shakes hand of KICC rep
KICC rep (KR) reciprocates and offers his name.
CM: What's your role in the organisation?
KR: I'm just a volunteer.
CM: Can I speak with a Trustee or senior manager?
KR: Can I help?
CM: Yes can you direct me to someone in authority?
KR: That's me.
CM: OK, let's see how we go. Are you a local resident?
KR: Yes - Sydenham.
CM: What is this building going to be used for?
KR: The community. This is for the community to hire and for conferences, seminars and exhibitions.
CM: All of those fall outside the permitted use class of the building.
KR: No they don't.
CM: Yes they do
KR: I'm not going to argue with you.
CM: Conferences and hall hire are D1 activities if you were told otherwise you have been misled.
KR: We know conferences and community hall hire are D2.
CM: Where did you get that information?
KR: The internet it's on the internet.
CM: Not the UK government website then. I can assure you those uses fall into the same D1 class as churches, Drs surgeries, dentists, community halls What is being proposed is a mixed use venue and requires a permitted change of use.
KR: That's not the case, look at Fairfiled Halls - it operates as D2 and runs conferences it's the same here.
CM: Fairfield Halls is in Croydon Town Centre and has car park for 1,000.
KR: Ah the parking. I really don't see that as an issue, this area's always been bad for parking KICC won't make any difference.
CM: So where are you advising people to park?
KR: Where ever there's a space and most people will use public transport.
CM: The 1200 business people coming on 25th will be predominantly arriving by bus?
KR: Or train.
CM:What is the capacity of this building.
CM: Why does the website advertise the business event on 25th as having over 1200 attendees?
KR Shifts weight from foot to foot. Strokes forehead with palm of hand. At which point I notice even though there are only a handful of us in the auditorium it is beginning to feel hot.
CM: Why is the sound system so massive?
KR: The building has been soundproofed and there's a limiter so no-one will be disturbed by noise.
CM: That's good to know but why do you need such an extensive sound system?
KR: It is really not a problem.
CM: But it could be and why do you need such advanced kit for speakers?
KR: There's going to be a cinema. We are looking for a film company to screen daily films, maybe two a day.
CM. Are you saying the primary use of the building is for a cinema?
KR: It's for the community to hire, there will be different things but we will supervise and make sure it is used to our guidelines.
CM: So what sort of films will you be showing and what will be the opening hours?
KR: I don't know it will depend on the film company but this building will be open every day to the public.
CM: How many large capacity events will be running?
KR: I don't know.
Local activist (LA): How much will it cost to hire hall?
KR: I don't know but prices will be commercial.
LA: So you are charging commercial prices does that mean KICC will pay full business rates to the council?
LA: Where are people going to park - I don't think you have answered that question.
KR: They will use bus and train but there is plenty of parking in Crystal Palace Park.
CM: Where will the users of the park and NSC park?
KR: As there is plenty of space this won't be a problem.
CM: The event on 25th is beginning with a religious ceremony?
KR: It is just the same as if you were moving into a new house, you would have a dedication.
CM: Not led by pastors.
KR: That's how we do it. There will then be a business conference. The Chamber of Commerce support this.
CM: KICC are working with the Chamber of Commerce?
KR: Yes. Chamber members have been welcoming and asked about hall hire for vintage furniture sales and one local business is supplying catering for 25th. KICC will have a positive impact on business.
CM: The CoC is a tiny, inward looking, association that represents only a few local businesses and does not represent or have links with the wider locality.
KR The CoC recognize the business opportunities KICC will bring it's members.
CM: I suppose everyone has a price - I believe there's a story about this in the bible....
As there were no Trustees or leaders to speak with the information was patchy. The volunteers did their best but they were not that well informed. Those I spoke with seem to think 25 CR is the same as Fairfield Halls and can be run as such. Answers were inconsistent - different people were told different things. The capacity numbers were either 500, 700 or 900 depending on who was asked - info on website says 1200+. The use given was conferences and hall hire with mixed use and daily cinema in the main auditorium but long term view was communities change and eventually (years ahead)CP would have changed and the building would eventually become a church serving the community within which it is set.
For the time being the volunteers were clear that no religous events would take place but people would be welcome to gather to pray there. One thing's for sure there are going to have to be regular capacity events to supplement investment of approx £2.5M revenue will not be made by weekly Zumba or locals popping in for a cuppa.
KICC are either exaggerating connections with the CP CoC or else the letter ( see post 253 on Open Door thread) sent to Chamber leaders from former Chair Ray Hall claiming the PPC had campaigned against the KICC not it's intended unlawful use of 25 CR, has had some influence. Mr Hall misrepresents the Campaign and speculates about the business benefits KICC will bring to the Town Centre to appeal to members' financial needs.
- D1 Non-residential institutions - Clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.
- D2 Assembly and leisure - Cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or area for indoor or outdoor sports and recreations (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).
and I'll leave you with the Town & Country Planning Act: http://www.legislati...4/schedule/made Class D1. Non-residential institutions
Any use not including a residential use —
(a)for the provision of any medical or health services except the use of premises attached to the residence of the consultant or practioner,
(b)as a crêche, day nursery or day centre,
©for the provision of education,
(d)for the display of works of art (otherwise than for sale or hire),
(e)as a museum,
(f)as a public library or public reading room,(g)as a public hall or exhibition hall
,(h)for, or in connection with, public worship or religious instruction. Class D2. Assembly and leisure
Use as —
(b)a concert hall,
©a bingo hall or casino,
(d)a dance hall,
(e)a swimming bath, skating rink, gymnasium or area for other indoor or outdoor sports or recreations, not involving motorised vehicles or firearms.