Churchill Theatre Site on sale to highest bidder?

28 Mar 2024
Churchill Theatre

Bromley Council has announced a general call for developers interested in the Churchill Theatre site on Bromley High Street, despite previously reassuring residents that the site would be sold or given to the current leaseholders Trafalgar Theatres, preserving its use as a theatre.

It now appears that no agreement has yet been made with the Trafalgar Group, with the Council citing value for money concerns over the proposed sale in a press release issued on 27 March. Bromley Liberal Democrats are once again concerned the Conservative-run council are simply looking to sell the site to the highest bidder, making it increasingly unlikely that the theatre will be retained as part of any redevelopment. Regrettably, it once again looks like the Council is prepared to ditch a valued community asset in pursuit of a fast buck.

Liberal Democrat Bromley Town Councillors have been working hard to shed light on the Council’s plans, since much of the planning has been carried out in secrecy. We have been accused of scaremongering and worse by Conservatives on the council, but residents should be in no doubt that the threat to the theatre and adjoining library site is very real.

Our petition, launched last year, attracted over 5,500 signatories from local residents, highlighting to the Conservative Council just how important the site is to our community. But here we are once again with the freehold for the site apparently up for sale.

Why is the site being sold? This landmark building, built only 50 years ago, is now in a truly neglected state due to years of underinvestment by the freeholders, Bromley Council , who have not maintained it. The building is considered 'beyond life' and the Council says it cannot afford to repair it. Other buildings of a similar age, such as the leisure centres, are having millions invested in them to extend their lives, yet the Council is offloading the Theatre. The only positive was the expectation that the site would be disposed of to Trafalgar Theatres, an international company with a proven track record in owning and operating theatres nationwide and overseas. 

Lack of transparency: Bromley Liberal Democrats are outraged at the way the disposal of such an important site has been pushed through at breakneck speed without any consultation with residents or allowing the Councillors to speak openly about the proposed deal. Your Liberal Democrat Councillors spoke at the two committee meetings that considered the matter. We reluctantly accepted that the theatre building was now beyond repair due to years of neglect, but urged a pause in the decision to give all Council – and residents – time to discuss and consider the options. We asked for guarantees that the site must incorporate a theatre whoever owns and redevelops it. We also asked for assurances that any “reverse premium” paid to Trafalgar (if it does happen) must be returned to the Council should Trafalgar not be able to complete redevelopment of the site for any reason.  We have not been given any such assurances and we continue to shine a light on the Conservative led Council’s plans for both the theatre and the library.

Support our theatre - in the meantime, please let us all support the theatre, let Trafalgar Theatres know that there will be a continued audience for their productions. The theatre in its current form will remain open until April 2026 and information about the current productions can be found on the theatre's website