Future of Watermans arts centre uncertain

Image above: Impression of the proposed design for the new Watermans

Watermans redevelopment highlighted as a ‘red risk’ in planning report

The future of Watermans arts centre in Brentford is to be discussed at tomorrow’s LB Hounslow Cabinet meeting (14 November).

The existing riverside site is due for demolition and redevelopment as flats as part of the Brentford town redevelopment and the arts centre is scheduled to move to a bigger venue in Brentford, in the old police station.

The Cabinet will be discussing the borough’s Delivery Plan, looking at the progress made on various major projects. The Delivery Plan identifies potential risks associated with ongoing projects, including concerns about inflation, increased material costs, supply chain and labour shortages, heightened borrowing expenses, delays in utility connections, and power supply adequacy.

The construction of 105 new flats and 484m2 of retail space, combined with the development of the new arts centre within a seven-storey block, has been classified as a ‘red risk’ in the report.

Image above: Watermans, as it is currently by the riverside in Brentford

Work must start by April 2024

Approval for the project was granted in 2021, allowing for the transformation of the former police station and the relocation of the existing riverside centre. The proposed Watermans arts centre was designed to feature a larger theatre, two cinemas with a gallery for film festivals, and space for a café/restaurant, totalling 2,776m2. No provision for car parking is included in the plans.

The Albany Riverside development, planned for the site of the current arts centre and the former Max Factor offices, encompasses 193 units in buildings ranging from six to seven storeys. Progress on this development hinges on the completion of the Watermans arts centre at the Half Acre site, a critical component of the affordable housing scheme.

As with all building projects, it has faced escalating costs, which led the Council’s Cabinet to approve recommendations in July to address the funding gap and look for ways to improve the scheme’s viability. A crucial requirement is that work must commence within three years of approval. The permission will lapse in April 2024.

Image above: River-facing side of impression of proposed designs for redevelopment