Wandsworth Council has granted planning permission for the reconstruction and refurbishment of the Grand Hall at Battersea Arts Centre following a fire in 2015.
The fire largely destroyed upper parts of the listed Grand Hall, with considerable damage to the rest of it. However the stained glass dome in the neighbouring Octagonal Hall was saved, as was the municipal building next door that houses the Battersea Arts Centre.
The council has given permission for a rebuild designed by Stirling Prize winning architects, Haworth Tompkins. The exterior of the building will be rebuilt to match the original with improvements inside such as better acoustics and lighting. The unique theatre organ, largely offsite undergoing restoration at the time of the fire, will be relocated to the balcony, freeing up space beneath the surviving proscenium arch.
Operationally, the Grand Hall will be significantly improved, allowing for a wider range of events to take place from shows to weddings and gigs to conferences with more efficient transitions between them.
The Lower Hall, which had been refurbished before the fire, will be returned to its pre-fire condition and become a Creative Hub to help nurture local creative business start-ups.
The renovation will build on work already underway at the Battersea Arts Centre to improve the 19th century town hall building for the benefit of the community.
This includes a new open-air courtyard theatre and activity space opening this July and eight new bedrooms allowing up to twenty three artists to live and make work in the building.
Last year the Wandsworth Museum merged with the Battersea Arts Centre and recently the new BAC Moving Museum was announced, including workshops and a tour of objects from the collection to local schools, libraries and other venues.
David Jubb, Artistic Director, Battersea Arts Centre said: “People’s response to the fire was very moving; everyone involved with Battersea Arts Centre was touched by the breadth and depth of people’s kindness. As we rebuild the Grand Hall we will use up to 10,000 of the bricks from the original building. The salvage operation and the redesign work has been a huge labour of love.”
Wandsworth Council owns the building, which it leases to the Battersea Arts Centre under a 20-year rent-free agreement.
Wandsworth Council’s director of housing and community services, Brian Reilly, said: “This is great news for Battersea Arts Centre and for everyone in our community who loves and cherishes this Battersea landmark. I am delighted that we have been able to approve these plans so quickly and that these important works to repair, restore and improve this wonderful building can now get underway.”