V22, a contemporary art organisation, has secured a 125-year lease on the Priory building in Orpington, ending months of speculation about the future of the borough’s oldest building.
Bromley council stripped the Priory of its museum provision and considered selling the listed Priory site. It has now struck a deal with V22, which intends to refurbish the property and create studios and exhibition space.
Other plans for the site remain “open”, said Tara Cranswick, director of the company. “We feel it will be really important to respond to the local community’s needs and wants,” she told Bromley Borough News.
“In the old library we will be building artists’ studios and an exhibition space. The studios in particular will help to build a sustainable revenue stream for both buildings long term. Plans for the Priory will be developed over the next year in collaboration with English Heritage, London Borough of Bromley and with the local community.”
In a statement, V22 said: “We recognise that the Priory and adjoining library are important buildings in Orpington; not only architecturally and historically, but their position close to the town centre creates a special opportunity for the buildings to once again become an important part of the civic life of the area and wider London.
“V22 is an art organisation which specialises in the collection of contemporary art, the production of exhibitions and events, the provision of artists’ studios and creative workspace at affordable rates, and the running of community engagement and education programmes. As an art organisation we necessarily believe that art can be one of the cornerstones of civic life.”
The company said it hoped to open the first artists’ studios in the old library building during the summer of 2017.
Councillor Graham Arthur, Bromley’s executive councillor for resources, said: “When everything was taken into consideration, including, crucially, the desire for the Priory to remain as a cultural facility, V22, have successfully presented their vision to take the Priory forwards.
“The costs of running this building are significant and V22 have robust business plans in place to help support their vision. V22 are committed to engaging with local people and groups and have a track record of doing this elsewhere too, which gives cause for optimism.”
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