Brockley Jack Theatre fear

We've tried to cover the planned developments to the Brockley Jack but have met with a rather guarded response from the management and Greene King (the parent company). This note, we received today from The Brockley Jack Theatre Co. may go some way to explaining it:

From today we have learnt that the Brockley Jack Pub is to be refurbished in the New Year. In principle, this is something that the theatre is keen to embrace and we have always wanted to work with the brewery – Greene King – on any plans for redevelopment.

However, the current plans for refurbishment mean the following:

  • the theatre will be relocated upstairs – via a stone staircase with NO provision for disabled access. This will affect many members of our audience as well as future participants. We have been informed by the brewery’s representative that they will not address this issue and provide reasonable access.
  • the pub’s toilets are to be relocated in the current theatre space – with the new performance space directly above this. (We have no written reassurance on sound proofing).
  • we have also been advised that any relocation costs of the theatre to the upstairs room will have to be met by the theatre company itself– this is simply not possible! This involves sound proofing, relocation of electrical supplies, refitting the room for theatre use, installation of load bearing rig etc.
With the lack of access for all, and the prohibitive costs of the move, the theatre’s future is incredibly uncertain. We have also been advised that if these issues become a problem for the brewery’s plans for refurbishment of the pub, we can be given notice.

The situation is now urgent as plans are going to Lewisham Council, with a possible planning meeting tomorrow night - so we do need your support now.

Please can you email reasons for objections to the plans to the following three email addresses. Please can you email asap – by Thursday midday latest. Thank you.
planning@lewisham.gov.uk
natalie.price@lewisham.gov.uk
sean.farnan@lewisham.gov.uk

In your email please could you mention the following, and in addition include any other comments that you feel applicable about the value of the current theatre space to the community, to the local and London wide theatre scene.

Objections:

The current application does not mention the change of the site of the theatre, and the access issues this would entail.

Click here if you wish to view the planning application.


Planning meeting:
There is a potential planning meeting tomorrow night. The details are below. Unless we make personal representation and objections, the plans may be approved. We will only know if this is happening by tomorrow – hopefully midday. If anyone can attend, we would be most grateful for your support. At this moment we are not sure what this would meeting would entail - but planning have advised us that if it is relevant to the theatre we should be there.

If the meeting is deferred, the next planning meeting would be January.

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

Meeting details.
6 December 2007 7:30pm
Committee Rooms 1 and 2, Civic Suite, Lewisham Town Hall, Catford, SE6 4RU Telephone No. 020 8314 9786
If the meeting goes ahead we will all meet there at 7.20pm.
If there is anything else, please come back to us.

best to all
Karl&Kate
Brockley Jack Theatre.



We don't know the Brockley Jack well enough to comment on the desirability of moving the theatre upstairs, although of course, there are many successful precedents for this. But we do find the issue of disabled access exrtaordinary, particularly given that Greene King is a major PLC that ought to consider access to its properties a priority. Lewisham Council ought to be mindful too that one of the legacies of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics for London was supposed to be greater empahsis on disabled access in the capital. [Full disclosure: we do some work for the Paralympics on a pro-bono basis]. As a Borough that wants to capitalise on the impact of the Games, it needs to treat such issues as a priority.

Given that there is also some doubt about the long-term future of the Rivoli Ballroom, the demise of the Theatre would be a major blow to Brockley's cultural landscape.

6 comments:

Tamsin said...

And because of the Olympics being bailed out by lottery funding there is less money available to the Arts.

I've never actually gone to the theatre, but would very much regret its loss just on principle.

Tamsin said...

Another point - I think the format at such planning meetings is that rather than many members of the public being able to speak, one person only can make verbal objections. You would need to co-ordinate. A great show of people is good but they would need to ensure that all the various points they want to make are channelled through one speaker.

Tamsin said...

Sorry, me again (lunch hour!)

Does their application include a request for a change of use? It might be a rather tenuous argument but if the re-location upstairs means that there is no disabled access, the theatre cannot operate - otherwise it would be in breach of the DDA - therefore it would have to close (wih the loss of the current D2 use, "assembly and leisure"), therefore the area would presumably be taken over by Greene King as part of the Class A4 use "public house, wine bar or other drinking establishment". And change of use D2 to A4 requires specific planning permission.

Planning objections have to be within planning criteria if at all possible - just saying that it's wonderful and we don't want to lose it is not enough.

Tamsin said...

Looking at the book and website again - theatre is not D4 - it is technically in a use of its own and still needs specific planning permission to be turned into a drinking establishment.

The Brockley Jack said...

Thank you all for your comments, interest and support with regards to the uncertain future of the Brockley Jack Theatre. At present any updates about the plans for redevelopment are most likely to come in the New Year. Lewisham Planning department are now aware of the situation regarding the change of space and lack of access - and THANK YOU to all who have taken the time to highlight these issues. Your advice, feedback and support are still greatly welcomed. At the theatre we all want and hope to resolve these issues contructively with the Brewery, and throughout this process your contribution is vital. We will keep you posted. Karl, Kate and all at the Brockley Jack Theatre.

The Stage said...

Just to let you know - the plight of the Brockley Jack has been covered by The Stage:
http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/19146/future-of-lewishams-brockley-jack-in-doubt

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