THERE might not have been too many “Common People” at the VIP launch of the newly refurbished Chalkwell Hall, but that didn’t stop the star guest enjoying himself.

Pop star Jarvis Cocker officially opened the Grade II listed building in Chalkwell Park, Westcliff, and said he was delighted to see it being given a new lease of life.

Arts group Metal has taken over the lease of the landmark from" target="_blank">Southend Council. The group hopes to make the building carbon neutral and has installed wind turbines on the roof and solar panels in the windows.

The site will provide a chance for artists to develop their talents in a creative environment.

And Jarvis, who had a string of hit singles with indie band Pulp, including Common People and Disco 2000, said he was thrilled to be a part of the event.

He said: “It’s nice the building has been brought back and that it’s carbon neutral. I always think it’s nicer to take something that’s there and bring it back to life. That’s been my whole ethos in life.”

The musician has visited Southend before, as he knew people in local bands and said he enjoyed coming back.

He added: “I’ve never been to Southend on such a nice day.”

He was invited along by Metal founder Jude Kelly, who he knew from working together before.

He said: “The idea is for people to meet here and that will involve artists coming from abroad and also people that live around here.

“You can’t build a building like this and I think it’s good to take advantage of what’s there. People remember it as it was and it’s nice for them to see it have a new lease of life.”

Also speaking at the launch was Deborah Cadman, chief executive of East of England Development Agency, which helped fund the renovation work.

The event also saw entertainment from the White Bus, a film screening with live musical accompaniment from Dave Dulake, Cosmonaut Volkov and the Seasiders.

The entertainment continues tomorrow with Village Green, an all-day event in the park, including performances from the Blockheads and Billy Bragg.

Metal also gained funding from Arts Council England East, and Southend Council to refurbish the building.