Save Our Watermans Submits ‘Meanwhile Use’ Bid

Campaign group responds to invitation for expressions of interest

Watermans Arts Centre. Picture: Watermans

May 10, 2024

A campaign group hoping to keep the Watermans Arts Centre open on its current site has confirmed that it has submitted an ‘expression of interest’ to use the building.

Hounslow Council invited submissions at the end of last month for a ‘meanwhile use’ of the vacated building. It remains the borough’s policy to continue with the planned redevelopment of the site but, given the likely timescale involved, it may be that the riverside site will not be demolished for several years. A ‘meanwhile use’ arrangement facilitates temporary use of a vacant or under-used building by businesses or other organisations.

Save Our Watermans says, “We have already submitted our Expression of Interest to the Council for the Meanwhile Use. This is an opportunity to keep your community arts centre operating within the current building. We already have a Strategy Planning Group and are creating a feasibility plan and a strategy for the continued provision of arts and culture for the interim period. Your continued support is much appreciated as we move to the next phase.”

We asked for further details of the plans for the centre but did not receive a response.

Brentford Voice is also understood to be working on proposals for use of the centre, but it said it had not submitted an expression of interest at this stage.

Cllr Tom Bruce, Labour Group Spokesperson for Regeneration and Development has reiterated that the long-term commitment to build a new art centre at the Half Acre site remains, but he confirmed the council wants to enable meanwhile use on the current site.

The council has received numerous communications from groups and individuals suggesting uses for the former Waterman’s Art Centre and Cllr Bruce said anyone who has been in touch will get a reply.

A visualisation of the Arts Centre planned for the former Brentford Police Station site
A visualisation of the Arts Centre planned for the former Brentford Police Station site. Picture: LGL

He added that any expressions of interest received will be formally evaluated and a further request made for more detailed bids. It is estimated that the assessment will take four months, but this will depend on the number and quality of the bids received.

Cllr Bruce said prior to the recent Brentford West by-election, “I am keen that we get the building re-opened as soon as possible. It is important to note that Hounslow Arts Trust currently hold the lease for the building and will do until September. Also, as the landlord, the Council will be required to conduct a structural survey to ensure the safety of the building and those who may occupy it.

“We are working closely with the trust to ensure the handover of the building and any associated equipment will take place as quickly and smoothly as possible, but also to ensure the resources and equipment they require for their community arts and culture projects can be safely secured and easily accessed.”

He said that in the next few weeks, residents may notice activity around the site as the Council carries out surveys and more detailed information on the next steps to be taken will be released.

Meanwhile progress on the twin development of the Albany Riverside and the former police station (including the proposed new arts centre) still continues to appear to be stalled. An update presented to a council committee still categorised the police station project at risk saying that an increase in the number of flats may be needed to make the project viable.

We have contacted LGL to ask when it plans to commence work on the two sites but await a reply.



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