Creative future set for historic Stratford building following Council funding boost.
Creative Land Trust have been awarded £100,000 by the Architectural Heritage Fund to develop plans for the refurbishment of Alice Billings House.
The property, just off Stratford High Street, was originally built-in c.1905-6 as firefighters’ accommodation and will be turned into a creative hub, taking it off the at-risk register giving it a new purpose that serves the local Newham community, as well as artists and makers.
Creative Land Trust will restore the property for it to become a new focal point for creative activity with public facing facilities like a café offer and gallery space, as well as studios for local makers and artists to work and collaborate in with proximity to the town centre.
Initial funding will go towards the interior refurbishment of the North and South blocks to bring them into use with 26 studio spaces and max 79 artists and a public facing café, events and exhibition space.
The plan to fully refurbish the interior and external features of the property is outlined over a five-year period, further phases will require additional capital, which will be fundraised for once activation of the site is undertaken.
The project’s success is anticipated to have a catalytic effect in the area, and provide momentum to bring other local buildings into cultural and other use, such as the Old Magistrates’ Court and commercial spaces on the high street.
Proposal for the regeneration of Alice Billings House and the local public realm as an artistic quarter, including artists’ studios and maker spaces accommodated in the historic buildings with a publicly accessible exhibition gallery and café.
Karrie Whelan, Director of Community Wealth Building, London Borough of Newham:
“We’re incredibly pleased to see our partnership with Creative Land Trust acting as a driver for further investment. This contribution from the Architectural Heritage Fund not only supports the restoration of Alice Billings House and the provision of affordable creative workspace but will also contribute to the regeneration of Stratford High Street. Collaboration and investment is essential to the borough’s recovery post-pandemic in delivering a healthier and happier community, as will be reflected in the forthcoming publication of our cultural strategy.”
Gavin Richards of the Architectural Heritage Fund says:
“We are delighted to continue our partnership with the Creative Land Trust. Having supported initial work to test the feasibility of converting these important but at risk historic buildings into artists’ studios, we are excited to see the detailed designs take shape. The project demonstrates the strong potential to meet the demand for creative workspace in the city by re-using historic buildings”.
Gordon Seabright of the Creative Land Trust:
“We’re deeply appreciative of the support that the Architectural Heritage Fund is providing to our project to regenerate Alice Billings House in Stratford. Not just their financial backing, but also their expertise in bringing historic buildings back to life, and their enthusiasm for the provision of affordable workspace for artists in Newham’s newest creative quarter.”