Bidding begins for South Norwood's Stanley Halls
The first steps towards creating a stable future for Stanley Halls have taken place this week.
Bids were placed with the council on Monday, with the process due to be completed by early 2013.
Stanley Halls, a collection of Edwardian buildings erected in the 1900s by designer William Robinson Ford Stanley as a gift to South Norwood, is currently owned by the council, who have run it since 1934.
The Stanley People’s Initiative, a group that was set up in 2011 to safeguard the future of the venue, are hoping they can gain full control after submitting their bid. Vice-Chairman of the group Paul Scott, who is also Labour councillor for Woodside, said it was vital the Halls remained a community hub, run by the people of South Norwood.
Cllr Scott said they want the halls to be a mix between a community centre and an arts centre.
He said: “I have just finished reading our business plan and I have to say it looks fantastic. It is looking very positive and we are very excited.
“This will now go forward to the Council. I would be very disappointed if we don’t make it to the last four. If we can get through then we will be negotiating directly with the Council.
“What we want to do is create a very flexible facility, which can cater for all sorts of activities.
“We want to build on the work that William Stanley actually started, in terms of providing the facility to the community through education, art and experience.”
Cllr Scott also said there is potential to work with the YMCA at a later stage but ruled out the notion that the Halls would become a hostel.
“The YMCA were looking for a facility in the area. We had some initial discussions with them and decided not to take it any further.
“ But in the future I see no reason why we couldn’t help them with some outreach work but they are not included in our bid, so that is something for a much later stage.”
The Council would not be drawn on how they view the future of Stanley Halls, a spokeswoman said: “As this is an asset transfer with commercially sensitive bids being placed, we can’t comment until the bidding process is complete.”