Victoria Park cafe plans party after winning rent battle

Councillor Luke Stubbs

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A CITY arts cafe is holding a free fun day to celebrate dodging a planned 110 per cent rent increase.

Mark Lewis, founder of the Lodge Arts Centre, in Victoria Park, feared the venue could be forced to close after plans were put forward to raise the annual charge from £4,500 to £10,000, as previously reported in The News.

At first the council argued it was to bring the property in line with other commercial ventures, but eventually it reconsidered and has now agreed on a compromise.

The rent increase will now be phased in over three years and could be lower than originally proposed.

Mr Lewis said: ‘We’re delighted the council has seen sense and decided not to price us out of a building that was derelict.

‘We took so much time and money turning it and the park around for all the community to enjoy today and for at least the next 10 years.

‘We have many more ideas on events, and for services we could provide for the public in the future, yet unfortunately we will not be able to give as many free workshops, courses and events as we have done due to the overheads we now have to endure.’

To celebrate Mr Lewis said the cafe will host the fun day in the park on Saturday, May 5, from 2pm to 6pm for families, featuring face painting, live music, art workshops and music in the evening.

Call (023) 9287 0880 for £5 tickets for the evening event.