Irish Centre's Future is Safe

As council agrees to sell Blacks Road building to directors

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There are celebrations at Hammersmith's Irish Cultural Centre this Easter with the news that H&F Council has struck a deal to sell the centre to its board of directors.

As predicted at the beginning of this year, the directors have agreed to buy the building after they were able to raise funds and secure a £550,000 grant from the Irish government.

The centre will now be redeveloped to provide a new Community Centre on the lower floors with residential accommodation on the upper floors. There will also be a café, bar, concert hall, offices, classrooms and rooms for hire, subject to planning permission.

H&F Council decided in February 2011 to sell the centre on Blacks Road and seven other buildings in order to reduce its historic debt which at the time stood at £133 million.

Following the decision, the council stated that it wanted to work closely with the ICCH and offer them first right of refusal to buy the property.

Jim O’Hara, Chairman of the Irish Cultural Centre, says: "We are delighted that the Irish Cultural Centre and the council have reached agreement on the sale and purchase of the building.

" Since the decision to sell the building was made in 2011, the centre's directors along with the council and its officers have worked constructively together to reach a settlement that was satisfactory to all parties.

" Now that this has been achieved, I wish to thank the council, on behalf of the centre's directors, management and its many users, for the cooperative spirit in which the negotiations have been conducted and which have now culminated in securing the long term future of the Irish Cultural Centre.

" I also wish to thank the Irish government for its vital support in enabling us to arrive at this successful conclusion."

Cllr Joe Carlebach, H&F Council cabinet member for community care, says: " The council is immensely proud of the borough's rich Irish heritage so it is particularly pleasing that we have found a positive solution that benefits our Irish community while at the same time reducing the burden for H&F taxpayers.

" I would like to pay tribute to Jim O'Hara and his team at the Irish Cultural Centre for the constructive and very professional way they have handled the negotiations.”

The ICCH will be submitting a planning application for the works to the council later in the year.

April 5, 2012