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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Designs for a £1.5m facelift at Kirkgate are under fire

£1.5 MILLION plans to transform Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Centre have attracted criticism from the town’s civic trust and some councillors.

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WORKED WITH ARCHITECTS: Kate Parry, of Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Centre

The arts centre has lodged plans with Allerdale council to extend the former Victorian school building to create a foyer, cafe bar, seating area and box office.

The broad scheme has been backed by the trust and nearby residents, but there have been specific objections to a proposal to use modern materials on the exterior.

A mixture of glass, zinc, copper and stone would be used. The centre said this would contrast with the existing architecture, while traditional materials would not be suitable because of site constraints.

The civic trust has suggested an independent review of the designs.

A trust spokesman said: “We have reservations and concerns over the proposed appearance and design.

“Given the nature and probable controversy the proposal presents, we suggest an independent review would be a welcome addition to the consultation.”

At a Cockermouth Town Council meeting last Wednesday, Councillor Alan Kennon said: “This is in a conservation area and it looks like a tin farm shed and doesn’t fit in.”

Coun Eric Nicholson said that several people had complained to him about the plans.

Allerdale council has been sent 13 letters of objection and 11 letters of support.

Susan Coombs, of Kirkgate, said: “I am all in favour of plans to improve the facilities and give it a facelift as it will be creating jobs for the town.

“However, the extensions will make it unrecognisable and destroy the architecture.

“We should accept it in principle but have a new design with something more sympathetic. The extensions will double it in size and will affect the character of the town because it is in a conservation area.”

Kate Parry, development manager at the Kirkgate Centre, said: “We’ve worked very hard with architects from the local Green Design Group to create a design we believe will be an innovative and beautiful new addition to Cockermouth.

“The aim is to produce a building that is sustainable and sympathetic to its location, which provides excellent facilities for local people, attracts visitors and is a real asset to the town.

“We’ve consulted extensively with the local community and invited our neighbours, town councillors, members of the civic trust, users of the centre and our own volunteers to give their ideas and comments on the proposals.”

She added: “We will be holding a meeting with Allerdale council, and it is not appropriate to comment further until that meeting has taken place.”

Have your say

I find Jonty Chippendale's obsession with the Kirkgate cafe and busines model odd. The cafe is not seen as a money spinner per se but as an added facility for the Centre's users. To dismiss it as another coffee shop is plain daft. However, at least Mr Chippendale is good enough to reveal his identity clearly and not rely on an apparent pseudonym or, at best, part of a name, as does 'Delia', whose comment seems redolent more of sour grapes than 'low fat spread'.

Posted by Derek Cannon on 3 April 2012 at 18:10

I approve of the design. Thank goodness the Kirkgate has vision otherwise the area will be stuck in some time warp. People need to accept change. This is positive and from a worthwhile local group who give their time freely without profit as their motive. Delia needs to stick to her home cooking and not aspire to michelin star design.

Posted by Heston on 3 April 2012 at 16:21

View all 4 comments on this article

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