West Cumbrian art centre plans changed after public objections
Last updated at 22:18, Thursday, 14 June 2012
Revised plans to extend and develop Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Centre have been supported by a panel of independent experts.
The centre wants to extend the former Victorian school building to create a foyer, cafe bar, seating area, box office and other improved facilities for the community.
However, original plans were met with some opposition from local residents who said they supported the need for the Kirkgate Centre to expand but objected to modern materials being used on the outside.
The centre had planned to use a mixture of glass, zinc and copper to contrast with the existing stone architecture.
It has since spent thousands of pounds presenting plans to Places Matter, an independent panel of experts and architects whose chairman is Stephen Hodder, vice president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
The panel supported the plans but did suggest improvements which the centre has included in its updated scheme.
The main changes will see a rear extension changed to better match the front, using slate coloured zinc and glass, adding more windows on the front and simplifying the first floor extension on the Bitter Beck side of the building.
Kate Parry, development manager at the Kirkgate Centre, said the new plan had incorporated many suggestions made during consultation and hoped for a favourable response.
She said: “Our meeting with Places Matter was extremely positive and we are delighted to receive their wholehearted support.
“The panel endorsed our approach to distinguish clearly between the old Victorian school building and the new modern extension.
“They did make a few suggestions for improvements which we have subsequently included in the plans.”
Despite letters of support being sent to Allerdale council following the amended plans, some local residents have still objected to the plans.
Kirkgate resident Susan Coombs, who objected to the original plan, said: “The amendments are not specific enough to change my position.
“I am not against modern materials because we have to move with the times and I accept the need to improve the facilities but because it is a very large development I do feel it will change the face of the bottom of Kirkgate.
“The amendments are only very small cosmetic changes and you can’t just treat the building in isolation because it is in a conservation area.”
Meredyth Bell, who owns St Helens Dentist Practice, said: “This is the oldest part of Cockermouth and the plans are out of character with anything around it.”
Hannah Kozich, chairman of the centre’s board of directors, added: “We urgently need to address the limitations of the building if we are to continue to provide such a diverse service.
“We have listened very carefully to the concerns, comments and suggestions made by the local community, planning officers and independent experts.
“We have tried to incorporate as many changes as we can, so whilst we improve the operational capability of the building we are also mindful of our neighbours.
“We all want to continue to provide fantastic arts and community activities.
“However, we are increasingly unable to accommodate everything needed of us due to the operational constraints of the building.
“We believe that this scheme will help us continue to serve the local community in the 21st century.”
First published at 19:24, Thursday, 14 June 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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