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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Theatre plan for Workington church at risk over tight restrictions

A publican looks set to abandon ambitious plans to transform a Workington church into a theatre.

paulscott 1005
DISAPPOINTED AT RESTRICTIONS: Paul Scott

Paul Scott, who owns the Vine Bar and the Grapes on the town’s pub circuit, has planning permission to change the empty Trinity Methodist Church into the Trinity Theatre and Arts and Craft Centre.

But he claimed that planning restrictions imposed by Allerdale council would have to be relaxed considerably for it to work financially.

Under the conditions, the South William Street venue could only play host to a maximum number of 12 live music events a year.

Planners have also estimated that the venue could cater for just 720 people: 520 at ground floor level and 200 at first floor level.

Mr Scott, who hoped to accommodate between 1,800 and 2,000, said: “I’m disappointed. From a business point of view that is a massive reduction of where I wanted to be.

“Any tickets would be so much more expensive because the numbers aren’t there.

“The restrictions they have imposed through planning would dramatically change the project, making it a no go financially.

“It’s looking extremely unlikely that the project would go ahead because the planners have limited the financial capabilities of the building.

“Imagine you have Take That on the phone, and you have to say ‘Sorry, we have had our 12 events. We can’t do it’.”

A council spokeswoman said that the conditions were there to protect the surrounding neighbourhood.

She said: “If the applicant has any queries in relation to the conditions we would encourage him to come and discuss his concerns with our planning department.

“The condition limiting the number of live music events to 12 per year was a recommendation made in the noise assessment report given to us by the applicant when he submitted his planning application.”

Residents living at nearby Wybrow Terrace had expressed concern that the venue would be a nightclub by another name.

Mr Scott, 47, of Pinfold Street, said: “If I wanted a nightclub, why didn’t I buy Fusion?”

He had previously said the project would create around 50 jobs.

The project had the backing of the Methodists, despite initial reservations about the sale of alcohol there.

The Rev Nicola Reynolds, the town’s Methodist minister, said she was not prepared to comment on the possible abandonment of the scheme until after she had spoken with her parishioners and with Mr Scott.

Mr Scott has identified the Opera House in Workington as a possible alternative venue and wants to work with the group campaigning to save it.

Owner Graves (Cumberland) Limited has permission to knock it down to create shops and flats.

l Letters – Page 10

Have your say

This is an outrage, we really need a Live Music Venue in West Cumbria, with the Civic Hall in Whitehaven in fear of been Closed, and Carnegie only been used for Tributes or WADAMS. There is no where for bands to play, apart from the same old circuit venues. If this was to happen it would be a big lift for the culture of west cumbria, in which at the moment we lack. Esp. Workington. There is deffo some one on the council protected the Carnegie Theatre, which is hardly used by the locals, and Monroes Bar which is currently closed. A venue such as this could bring tourism, more revenue and put Workington on to some sort map, where people might come and see our beautiful town. (When the council stop trying to destroy it)

Posted by Bootzie Richardson on 15 May 2013 at 08:50

Looks like someone in Allerdale is trying to protect the Carnegie and not local residents. If you are going to impose the new venue to 12 live events per year events to protect residents, then surely this should also apply to the Carnegie which probably has more houses surrounding it.

Posted by benny on 12 May 2013 at 13:39

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