PLANS to demolish a former athletics club base adjacent to Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Centre have been approved by Cumberland Council.

Demolition is due to commence on Monday, July 1 and will signal the latest stage in 'ambitious plans' to develop a new home for a heritage collection showcasing Cockermouth’s history.

Kirkgate Arts and Heritage Group had applied to Cumberland Council for planning permission to demolish the former Derwent Athletics Club building in the All Saints car park in preparation for the new development.

The clubhouse, adjacent to the Kirkgate Centre, was donated to Kirkgate Arts a few years ago with a view to developing a facility capable of storing and displaying artefacts.

However, the one-storey prefabricated building, which contained asbestos, is structurally unsound and Kirkgate Arts and Heritage want to replace it with a new purpose-built facility to house the heritage collection.

Kirkgate General Manager Emma Heys said: “The former Derwent Athletics Club Building was originally a temporary classroom, built post-war to accommodate more pupils in the original All Saints School so historically it’s part of what is now the Kirkgate Centre.

“We employed a local asbestos removal and demolition firm to complete the clearance of the site. The first stage was to safely remove all the asbestos and then clear the interior. That work was completed recently.

“Demolition will commence on July 1 and should take around a week.

“The contractors are keeping disruption of the car park to an absolute minimum, with only a few bays being kept clear for the work to be completed. We are in contact with the council to make sure the site is safe and that work is completed swiftly.”

The building was purchased by an anonymous donor and passed on to Kirkgate Arts with a long-term aim in mind, said Emma.