Momentum gathers for new London concert hall

Construction of a new £278m concert hall in London has edged a step closer with publication of the feasibility study and allocation of a £5.5m government grant to fund development of a full business case for the project.

At the same time, the City of London Corporation has agreed its willingness in principle to make land available for the site.

The six-month initial feasibility study, Towards a World-Class Centre for Music, was commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Mayor of London in February this year. The report has been produced by the Barbican Centre, the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama alongside expert specialist teams from GVA Acuity, Arup Associates and Gardiner & Theobald.

The next stage of the project will involve completing the full business case for the project, agreeing the terms for the acquisition and development of the preferred site, developing the concept design to RIBA Stage 2 and beginning the private sector fundraising with a view to securing a lead funder.

The feasibility study considered a number of locations, with the study recommending the current site of the Museum of London near Sty Paul’s as the preferred option. This site becomes available when the museum moves to West Smithfield, as planned. The existing building would be pulled down to make way for a landmark development.

With the new concert hall providing a home for the LSO, the Barbican Hall would be remodelled to become a home for contemporary music and performance, while LSO St Luke’s would be adapted to enhance its community focused and digital recording facilities. Alongside the Guildhall School’s acclaimed new medium-scale hall at Milton Court, this would create a collection of linked venues for classical music in the city.

The estimated construction cost of the proposed new centre is put at £278m.

The feasibility study estimates the benefits of investing in a Centre for Music, alongside the proposed works to the Barbican Hall and LSO St Luke’s, would deliver a net present value of over £890m to the UK economy.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:  “I welcome the government’s backing for the next phase of the Centre for Music project. It would create a world-class concert hall to compete with those in other global cities and help to reshape an increasingly important cultural quarter in central London at time when Crossrail will be bringing in many more commuters and visitors.

“It would also be investing in the long term future of culture, creativity and tourism, which are of huge importance to the UK economy, as well as music education, not just for local youngsters, but for young people up and down the country.”

Theatre and film director Sir Nicholas Hytner was among the advisers to the feasibility study. He said: “I’ve been pleased to give some external input to the feasibility study: it makes a really comprehensive and convincing case for a new Centre for Music in London. As the study shows, investment in this project has the potential to be transformative for music and music education in this country, and I am delighted that it is now proceeding to the next phase with the support of the government and the City of London.”