A COMMUNITY arts and live music organisation has a new home in Woking.

Phoenix Cultural Centre and its Fiery Bird live music venue will move to a temporary space at 32 Goldsworth Road, part of the EcoWorld London redevelopment of the area.

The centre is set to open this summer with the intention of being home for at least the next two years, before Eco-World redevelop the site.

EcoWorld was granted planning permission for its application, which includes five tower blocks, on appeal in January last year.

An EcoWorld spokesman said this week: “We are finalising arrangements before implementation of the scheme’s planning permission, but the element of the site to be occupied by Phoenix Cultural Centre is in a later stage of development that is not anticipated to begin before 2026.”

The 2,000-square metre space made available to Phoenix, which will be let on a peppercorn rent, will be refurbished by EcoWorld to make the space accessible and fit for purpose. 

As the Fiery Bird music venue, the space will host live entertainment for up to 250 people. 

There will also be workspaces for social enterprise start-ups, and event spaces for community, cultural and health workshops, with events and activities for all ages.

“We are thrilled that EcoWorld London are able to provide us with this generous temporary space right across the street from the tiny venue where we started out,” said Elaine McGinty,  Phoenix’s chief executive. 

“We’re excited to be able to continue and increase our mission of supporting and promoting the arts and equality in opportunity in the local community and beyond.

“Woking is a diverse town with a rich cultural heritage and we want everyone to be part of making this happen.

“Creative expression is a human behaviour, not a skill for a few.

“This is an exciting step to getting Woking the music venue and grassroots cultural centre its community deserves.”

Lisa Gledhill, managing director at EcoWorld London, said: “EcoWorld has a long-term commitment to Woking. We are delighted to have been able to provide Phoenix Cultural Centre with a temporary home which will enable them to continue their vital work in the community. 

“We believe that investing in culture and the arts is an important part of creating sustainable communities.” 

Elaine added: “We were offered the space when Cllr Forster retweeted a news article about how disappointed he was that Surrey County Council had rejected our Your Fund bid to make the Bed Bar [the proposed location near the railway station] accessible. 

“Someone working for EcoWorld saw it and approached us to see if we could make use of their space to save us having to close. Their planning had already been agreed so it was an empty space available in the meantime. 

“They had committed to community projects in other ways, such as owning the Really Useful Wood Company premises, and committing to new premises for York Road Project and the Railway Athletic Club.

“It seemed a good fit for us in that context, with town centre location and its own parking and outside space.

“We have found them really enthusiastic, responsive and understanding of our aims.”

Further plans for the community-led venue include programming UK touring acts and local nights in music and comedy of diverse genres, Phoenix’s own workshops and events, training and employment and reinstating partnerships working with special educational needs adults.

There are also talks with several partners interested in using the space, including The Jam exhibition, which, following successful runs in London, Liverpool and Brighton, will look to Goldsworth Road to house the display encompassing The Jam, The Style Council and Paul Weller’s solo career.