Major plans to transform Fairfield Halls into a world-class venue that will "outdo the South Bank" have been unveiled.

Bars, restaurants and homes will be constructed in the surrounding area, while next-door Croydon College will move into a state-of-the-art new building under the £12m proposals.

Croydon Council wants work to begin as early as spring next year and hopes the revamped Fairfields Halls, which will close during refurbishment, will reopen in 2018. 

Council leader Tony Newman said: "We are really aiming to outdo the South Bank. It is that kind of level we are aiming to hit. It's one of my favourite places in London and we want it in Croydon as well.

"There has been so much, for so many years, about the Fairfield Halls, and this really does deliver it for the next 50 years for Croydon."

The venue's 1,800-seat concert hall will be fully refurbished to include new seating and a modernised backstage area and the 755-capacity Ashcroft Theatre will be renovated to contain flexible performance and art spaces.

A new restaurant will open on the venue's mezzanine level, while a revamped bar and seating area on the ground floor will lead to a transformed College Green public square outside.

The council hopes the transformation will reinvigorate the ageing venue, opened in 1962, and make it a cultural focal point for south London.

Coun Newman said: "These are exciting times for Croydon and these visionary plans will put the borough well and truly on the cultural map. 

"Croydon is proud of Fairfield’s heritage but it’s time to look to the future. We want to return the Fairfield to its former glory by creating a contemporary venue and cultural quarter that will attract artists and entertainers from across the globe."

The council is in talks with Fairfield Halls management about a date for closure in a bid minimise the impact of the venue's scheduling. Coun Newman said he expected work to begin "early next year".

The first phase of construction will include state-of-the-art new buildings to accommodate all of Croydon College's faculties on the Barclay Road annex site.

Shops, bars, restaurants and hundreds of homes will later be built on the site currently occupied by the college, as well as new paths and squares will link the area to East Croydon station, Surrey Street and other areas of the town centre.

Frances Wadsworth, principal and chief executive of Croydon College, said: "We are thrilled to be at the heart of  proposed developments that will be truly transformational for Croydon, the College Green area and even more significantly for learning and opportunity for Croydon residents. 

"The proposal that we work with the council to build a brand new state-of-the-art College is a fantastic opportunity.  

"This, coupled with further exciting developments and expansion with Sussex University, will all contribute to making Croydon a thriving centre of opportunity and development."

Rich Mather Architects, which worked on London's Royal Festival Hall and the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, will work on the project.