CONSTRUCTION is “well under way” on the redevelopment of a major new Irish hub in west London.
Last year the Irish Cultural Centre bought its freehold site close to Hammersmith tube station from Hammersmith and Fulham Council having successfully raised £1.5million.
The new centre, originally slated to open in spring 2015, will be located on the site of the organisation’s historic premises on Blacks Road.
Jim O’Hara, Chairman of the ICC, said foundations were laid and walls have started to go up, albeit a little behind schedule.
O’Hara told The Irish Post that the site should be ready in “about a year” and that they continued to engage in regular fundraising efforts.
After completion, the site will include a state-of-the-art 180 seater performance space, three multipurpose rooms and a café/bar.
In May, the ICC said it needed to raise a further £600,000 in order to complete the building works.
“We’re still continuing our activities and making progress,” said Mr O’Hara. “We’re calling on the Irish community to get involved because up until now we’ve raised the money to buy the site and to build the building ourselves.”
O’Hara said that the ICC were speaking to companies with a view to landing sponsorship deals, whilst crediting the Ireland Fund of Great Britain who pledged £50,000 to help fitting out of the building.
According to O’Hara, the organisation is in the middle of “two difficult years” in which resources have been stretched.
The centre is currently renting an office in Hammersmith for administration, while activities are taking place in a community centre at St Paul’s Church and at Hammersmith Town Hall.
O’Hara said redundancies had been made when they moved out of their former building and whilst they were “fundraising like mad”, their ability to host bands, groups and conferences had inevitably been hit.
“We’ve had to cut down on events and staff levels. But our classes and educational programmes are still functioning as before,” he added.
The ICC’s initial funding drive for the development was boosted by a grant of £550,000 from the Irish Government in early 2012.