The arts centre plans that have divided Cockermouth
Last updated at 12:30, Friday, 07 September 2012
These are the controversial designs for a new extension planned for Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Centre, which continue to split the town.
The plan to add zinc-clad extensions with glass walkways has outraged some residents and traders who claim it is out of keeping with the conservation area.
Paul Carr, of Firns Home Hardware on Station Street, this week called the design a “blot on the landscape and a grotesque ‘carbuncle’.”
But Kate Parry, the centre’s development manager, said it had taken two years to draw up the designs.
“We have reached the conclusion that we haven’t compromised the heritage and have satisfied the concerns of the impact it will have on our friends and neighbours,” she said.
The plan is to partly demolish the east and west gables to include a foyer with a cafe bar, seating area and box office, a community meeting room, better offices and improved seating, lighting and sound equipment in the auditorium.
The two zinc-clad extensions would be joined to the building by two glass walkways.
The plans were turned down in July by Allerdale council’s development panel, but have been resubmitted alongside an appeal.
There are no changes to the plans but they include detailed statements from architects about use of materials.
They explain that stone was not viable because of cost, speed of construction, difficulties in transportation and the amount of space needed.
Mrs Parry said that if the resubmission was successful, the appeal would be withdrawn; but if it wasn’t, the whole process would take around seven months.
She said: “The refusal has frustrated us because it has taken us two years working with planning officers and debating about the feasibility of extending the centre.”
She added: “We thought long and hard about the choice of materials and have made it quite clear why we have chosen them.
“We believe it is the right approach as English Heritage, independent experts Places Matter and Allerdale council planning officers have fully supported us.
“We have used modern materials in contrast with traditional stone as that is the approach favoured and we have been told not to try to mimic the old style.
“We want to show the building looking forwards and that will be a huge attraction to the town. We want to keep it alive and kicking and look right ahead into the 21st century.”
The plans have been made possible by a £500,000 grant from the National Lottery, awarded in 2010 and valid for another three years.
The centre has a fund-raising strategy in place to get necessary money for the changes.
Mrs Parry added: “Cockermouth isn’t a Georgian town any more as it has changed and evolved.”
Mr Carr, who is among a number of strong critics of the scheme, said he believed most Cockermouth people supported the Kirkgate Centre and its need to expand.
He said: “Not to like the exterior zinc ‘shed like’ plans does not mean that one does not support the Kirkgate Centre and its aims.”
But he said other residents and businesses had been forced to comply with conservation guidelines, and called for the Kirkgate plan to be modified.
l Letter – Page 10
First published at 11:49, Friday, 07 September 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
Have your say
2 years in planning and all they come up with is this eyesore? No small wonder it was declined.
The whole thing looks breathtakingly banal, ugly and inappropriate.Ms Parry seems particularly smug in her comment: âWe have reached the conclusion that we havenât compromised the heritage and have satisfied the concerns of the impact it will have on our friends and neighboursâ.I should feel embarrassed to confess that I had spent two years working on such a project and that this was the result.