Government pulls plug on 'Rattle Hall'
The government has withdrawn its support for the "world class" Centre for Music for which Sir Simon Rattle campaigned sand the Barbican Centre would have run on the site of the Museum of London.
The previous Chancellor George Osborne funded a business case to the tune of £5.5m, but the government has now said the project is unaffordable and all but the initial £1.25m for a feasibility study by Barbican chief Sir Nicholas Kenyon and Sir Nicholas Hytner is to be returned.
A government spokesman said that London already had world class culture and music venues, with the Royal Albert Hall, the Barbican Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. He said the government “provided funding to consider the business case for a new London concert hall to add to this mix, but has concluded that it does not currently offer value for money for taxpayers and is not affordable. Therefore it will no longer fund contributions to this project. We know this will disappoint those who are working hard to deliver this project and we wish them well with developing alternative plans for financing”.
The decision also throws into disarray plans to move the Museum of London to occupy part of Smithfield Market, freeing up the site to build the new concert hall on.
The Centre of Music - nicknamed "Rattle Hall" because plans for it emerged as Sir Simon Rattle agreed to become the next music director of the Barbican-based London Symphony Orchestra next year - had been a joint project supported by the Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Mayor of London and the City of London.
“This is very disappointing news" said Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation. "We believe the government should have waited to see whether a business case could have been developed before making this announcement”.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “This is bad news for London. World-class cities need world-class music venues like the Centre for Music. This looks like a vote of no confidence in London from the government.”