The developers hoping to replace the building currently housing Matthews Yard with a new block of flats insist the plans are essential to safeguard the future of Surrey Street.
Last May, Regent Land Ltd submitted a pre-planning application to bulldoze the building, which houses the popular community hub, and build a nine-story block of flats in its place.
The proposed block would contain 22 flats as well as space for a food vendor, a first-floor space for community groups to use, a communal lounge and four parking spaces which would be accessed via Surrey Street.
Over the past few months, thousands of people have signed a petition to save Matthews Yard from being demolished.
But Pat Maher, CEO of Regent Land, insists the proposals are necessary if Surrey Street is to survive after the arrival of the new £1.4billion Westfield / Hammerson shopping centre.
“I think the borough is definitely going through a transitional period and with things like Westfield and the redevelopment of Fairfield Halls on the horizon, it’s becoming known as a cultural hub around the country,” he said.
“With Surrey Street, the market itself will soon have to compete with Westfield – as historic and lovely as it is, it can’t be left alone and expected to survive. There needs to be a strong cultural offering to draw people to Surrey Street as they visit these new shops.
“From the outset, we have always wanted to preserve a cultural hub in the building but that space does need to be updated.
“The existing building is no longer fit for purpose and we felt that updating it would offer a more positive contribution to the area.
“We are not here to undermine the good work that Matthews Yard has achieved, but the fact is that its lease is going to expire in 2019 and it is going to be at risk whether or not we are here making these plans.”