Another mural has been unveiled at Brigstock House as part of the transformation of the once gloomy tower block housing refugees but this public art project – costing more than £14,000 – has been invested in a building which is actually owned by wealthy property developers.
A significant chunk of the funding for the artwork £10,343.16, was sourced from a Section 106 agreement as part of the council’s Vision 2020/Public Art along with Community Ward budget.
Originally called Nicholas House the building was given permission in 2000 to turn in to 28 bed hostel before being purchased for £2.9million by Comwood Holdings Ltd which is listed as buying and selling real estate. The building on Melfort Road, is now used as a temporary accommodation for asylum seekers being processed by the Home Office.
Comwood Holdings company director Lawrence Alkin, is also non executive director of Winkwork Estate Agents and set up Holmes Place Health Club which was acquired by Virgin Active. Mr Alkin lists as his correspondence address a multi million pound apartment in the iconic Montevetro housing complex overlooking the Thames in Battersea.
His co-director Bryan Burletson and company secretary, Mr Burletson’s wife, Prudence live in Henley on Thames and their son-in-law was recently the youngest person to be nominated for the Supreme Court by US President Donald Trump.
Comwood Croydon Ltd who the trio also oversee provides temporary accommodation to Clearsprings Ready Homes which in January 2019 was one of three companies to win contracts to supply the Home Office with asylum accommodation in the South and Wales which are worth £4billion over 10 years.
The latest mural was painted by Hampshire artist Curtis Hylton utilising scaffolding erected by Comwood to replace the existing windows with uPVC windows.
Two previous murals included a portrait of a local boy created by street artist Ben Slow and the other mural on the side of the building a colourful abstract in black, yellow, white and aqua designed by international artist Mark McClure.
The murals were commissioned by Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison owner of the RISE art gallery which was behind the art street movement in Croydon and has now morphed in to KZM Studios which says it is delivering “ambitious, engaging and meaningful large scale public art projects.”
Bensham Manor councillor Alison Butler has also contributed community ward budget of around £4,000 . The funds are intended to encourage resident-led activities. The S106 was paid to the council by the developer of the Lenning House residential apartments in Croydon and mitigates the impact of a development on a community. In Cllr Butler’s 2018/19 CWB, KWB Studios received £1,500 towards the project.
The Chronicle contacted Comwood but received no reply.
Cllr Butler said: “The building was a bit of an eyesore and the idea behind the original payments was not only to enhance the building for those living in it, but to make it a far more attractive place for the whole community.
“The murals were/are incredibly popular and I think they achieved this. This has been successful regeneration because it has inspired the building owners to finish the rest of the building, I am sure this wouldn’t have happened or been considered without the original investment. Although the building looks far more attractive, the murals would not have increased its value.”