Friday, 13 September 2013

Public meeting 4th September round up

We had another great turn out for our public meeting held in the Council Chamber at the Bromley Civic Centre last week. Peter Martin, Chairman of BACI, presented on the latest developments and we took a lot of questions and opinions from the floor. It was a lively meeting with some great feedback and lots to take away and action! Thanks to everyone who attended. Below is the presentation and underneath that is a quick round up of the key points discussed. As always please don't hesitate to get in touch with any thoughts and ideas, any offers of help also always greatly received! 
Amanda Hone, BACI Secretary (

Round up as follows:

With these notes should be found the PowerPoint presentation given by Peter Martin, Chair of the Bromley Arts and Community Initiative (hereafter referred to as BACI). The presentation highlights the current state of disrepair of the Royal Bell Hotel, the lease issues and legal obstacles that have led to its continued demise and a proposed plan for the future of this Grade II listed building, including pub/coffee shop, performing arts auditorium, workshops, studios and exhibition space.

Photo Copyright Jo Hone Photography

After the presentation the meeting was opened to the floor for questions, some of the key discussion points are listed below:

-         The possible involvement of Bromley and Orpington Colleges in helping with the project was raised. This idea was welcomed by BACI as they hadn’t approached any of the educational establishments in the Bromley Borough just yet. Further to the meeting John Street of BACI’s committee has approached Orpington College who have a been in positive discussion about a student building a new website.
-         The involvement of the group called Bromley North Traders was suggested. Amanda Hone, BACI’s Secretary, explained that she keeps the group up to date on developments through regular news updates over email and had approached Bob (of Reid’s Music shop) offering to come to meetings and present on the project, the Royal Bell is a significant building within Bromley North Village afterall, however they have not taken her up on her offer.
-         The possibility that the 2 upstairs floors could be developed into a “live/work” space was suggested. This is an initiative where artists and designer/makers can pay a rent to live and work in a space with 2 rooms at an affordable rate. This suggestion was noted and would fit in exactly with the vision for the use of the building. ACME was the organisation mentioned and BACI will pursue this.
-         The literary, artistic and cultural history of Bromley was raised and the lack of celebration of our most famous residents. A suggestion was made to have a sculpture of the tripod from “The War of The Worlds” somewhere within the vision for the arts centre. BACI agreed that there would be emphasis on Bromley’s history and heritage and that celebration of residents old and new was a key way of engaging a community in where they live. There were many other suggestions of famous people who live/have lived in Bromley and a list will be made to see whether we might approach any individuals/related organisations for funding in the future.
-         David Bowie (who deserves his own bullet point!) was mentioned as the one living celebrity who might be able to help us most, both publicity wise and maybe with money. Amanda Hone said she had an email sitting in her outbox ready to send to David Bowie as he famously grew up in Bromley, but disillusioned by the lack of an artistic and musical scene he so desired. In a bid to rectify this he set up the Arts Lab in the former 3 Tuns pub (now Zizzi’s) in Beckenham and organised a free festival in Beckehenham Recreation Ground (after which one of his first hits, “memories of  a free festival” was named). After the meeting Gillian Payne, an attendee at the meeting, informed Amanda that David Bowie had given some signed albums to a local fan who wanted to raise money to do some much needed work on the bandstand in Beckenham Rec. Sending an email to David Bowie will be discussed at the next BACI committee meeting on the 17th of September, as his willingness to contribute to a local cause is very encouraging.
-         The issue of how much rent Spirit Group would be prepared to accept for a sub-lease of the building was questioned. It was advised to get them to agree a ball park figure before plans and funding began as if the sub-lease agreement BACI was working to was incorrect and Spirit Group decided they wanted to charge more than what we are estimating (around £80,000 a year) then all the plans would be rendered unworkable. BACI will write to Spirit Group directly and get something in writing to get this figure agreed. Peter Martin stressed that BACI taking the sub-lease of the building was very positive for Sprit Group as the community group can lever in funds available only to not for profit organisations which no business can do. BACI hope that the positives of having BACI take and run the building at a fraction of rate Spirit continue to pay to the landowners will overall outweigh the negatives of them having to undertake the high costs of full repair and renovations which they are liable for by the end of their lease (23 years time).
-         Tony Banfield of the Bromley Civic Society raised the idea that the vinyls on the outside of the Royal Bell that board the windows could be utlised both to make the building look better and to publicise our cause. Amanda Hone said this would be a good idea although with a lot on for the whole BACI committee it would need someone to take responsibility and didn’t know whether this would happen immediately. The design would need to be commissioned, then agreed by Bromley Council and then fitted, all costing significant amounts. This will be discussed at the next BACI meeting on the 17th of September with potential that it could be written into their Community Fund application.
-         The great need for artists studios in Bromley was brought up. Many artists in the room agreed that they were travelling to East London and beyond to take studios there which entails a long commute and high transport costs. After the meeting Kevin Hopgood, a local and artist and attendee, sent a rough estimation of the potential income if the top 2 floors of the building were let out to artists at around £200 a month, assuming that all 12 rooms could be easily converted (they are in a good state at the moment) which amounted to around £30,000 a year. A significant figure and something well worth investigating through the feasibility study.
-         The problem of fitting a Grade II listed building with the necessary legal fixtures and fittings needed in a fully serviced pub and kitchen was raised, the example being given of a large extractor needed from the kitchen. Amanda agreed that there were certainly going to be many issues, challenges and problems in undertaking a project so complex as this, although this wouldn’t put the BACI team off trying. Potential problems should be investigated and assessed in a feasibility report, undertaken by professionals who would be commissioned to undertake the work, and if these problems were to be insurmountable then the project of course would be given up on. The fact that there are many tens, if not hundreds of community, arts and theatre spaces around the country which have proved to be successful, often in listed buildings, means this project has high possibility of success. Amanda said there may not be many in Bromley and surrounding areas but this is all the more reason to continue with the project.

Peter Martin thanked attendees for coming and welcomed any offers of help or advice, especially from those who had expertise in property, legal matters and business case planning.


  1. Hello!
    I see that you have approached David Bowie for support for your project. Its a great idea and I hope it becomes a reality. Are you aware that a similar initiative is underway in Beckenham, following the reprise in September of the 1969 Free Festival? I founded the Beckenham Arts Lab with Bowie. This weekend 26/27 Oct 2013 the founding members of the re-born Beckenham Arts Lab are meeting at my house in Bristol to formulate the next moves.It seems obvious to me that collaboration between yourselves and the Beckenham Arts Lab should take place at the earliest possible opportunity.

  2. My Google ID says Pema which is my screen name. My real name is Mary Finnigan.

  3. Hi Mary, we'd love to discuss this as we really hope we can do something similar to what you achieved with the Arts Lab. Are you free to talk later today? If you email me your number I'll call you Looking forward to it :) Amanda

  4. Great to know about your meeting. Currently planning my office meeting. Going to book one of amazing meeting space San Francisco for it. Have never organized such meeting so will take my friend’s help who have great experience in doing such things. Hope will be able to arrange professional meeting.


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