An ambitious six-stage masterplan for the regeneration of London’s Alexandra Palace has been released for public consultation.
The North London venue appointed Sir Terry Farrell and Partners to develop a masterplan for the regeneration of the site in March. The result sees redevelopment across the site broken into six “big ideas”, a combination of short-term refurbishment and long-term development expected to cost tens of millions of pounds.
According to Ally Pally CEO Duncan Wilson, the masterplan will establish the palace’s position as an events and entertainment destination, realise the community and learning potential of the building and surrounding parklands, improve the venue’s financial position and conserve the historic site.
“We have chosen to consult people early, to engage them with a series of thought through ideas,” he told EN. “The realisation of these ideas, and the work to attract investment is to come in the autumn. We also want to allow for ideas that we haven’t come up with, or are on the plan.”
The first two stages of the masterplan aim to improve the accessibility and visual impact of the east, west and main south entrances. To achieve this, the venue is exploring options to turn the road in front of the main south terrace into a shared space for cars and pedestrians, much like the new-look Exhibition Road in South Kensington.
The third stage will improve circulation within the venue by reopening unused corridors and refurbishing existing thoroughfares. This would include restoring the four original grand corridors, which look out onto the courtyards and connected the east and west wings. Stage three will also ensure spaces such as the main halls and ice rink can operate independently, Ally Pally stated.
Under stage four, significant improvements would be made to the main halls. At a minimum, lighting is to be upgraded and the glass roof of the Great Hall repaired, while backstage areas will be improved for performers. Depending on investment, Ally Pally is also considering introducing colonnaded aisles with mezzanine balconies to improve services and acoustics and to provide more zoning options. Conservation of the venue’s rose windows and Henry Willis pipe organ are also under review.
The fifth stage will see a hotel built within the existing Victorian façade extending into the currently derelict south-west tower, with a lobby off the Palm Court plus restaurant, bar and meeting room facilities.
The final stage of the masterplan is aimed at reopening derelict sections of the venue, including the 3,000-seat Victorian theatre, BBC Studios and basement as cultural and event spaces.
Wilson, who oversees both the venue and the Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust, reiterated each element will only proceed with appropriate financing and a sound business case. Following the public consultation phase, the venue plans to approach potential partners and hoteliers later this year, as well as donors such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.
As a result, each part of the masterplan is designed to stand independently and is expected to be delivered in stages. Nevertheless, Wilson expects to make “significant progress” on the plans within two years, and estimated it would take five years before major capital improvements are made. Alexandra Palace is owned by Haringey Council.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but we want to maintain the successful events programme to our utmost,” Wilson added. “If you really stick at it and are clear on where you want to get to in the end, you can achieve a lot.”
Public consultation on the new designs runs until 30 June.
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