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Carlisle College gets planning go-ahead for £5.3m arts and media centre

Plans for Carlisle College’s new £5.3 million arts and digital media complex have been approved.

Carlisle COllege arts centre graphic
An artist’s impression of the new complex

City councillors gave the application their backing for the iconic building in Strand Road – but have raised concerns over highways and parking issues in the area.

It will house students who currently share space with those from the University of Cumbria at its Brampton Road campus.

Facilities will include a theatre, performance/rehearsal areas, music recording and rehearsal booths, media-editing suites, a studio and gallery space to showcase the work of up and coming artists.

The complex would add two modern wings to an existing brick building at Swifts Mews, retaining its facade and three-storey tower while demolishing an “unsightly” former sports hall at the back.

Stephen Daniel, one of Carlisle City Council’s planning officers, said a grant – £3m has been secured from the Government’s Skills and Funding Agency – which would partially fund the project, was time limited.

The college, which already owns the site, is fully confident of securing the remaining funding to allow the complex to open by late summer next year.

However, Councillor Willie Whalen said the time scale was not planning related and should not influence the development control panel’s decision – the application had been recommended for approval by officers.

Mr Whalen, who represents Castle ward on both the city council as well as Cumbria County Council, said the area suffered badly from traffic congestion.

He added: “This is a very important issue to me – I represent the people who live in that area who get a very bad deal.”

Mr Whalen said he could not support the application if it made the situation worse.

Jane Meek, the council’s director of economic development, said she would call a meeting between the college and nearby Trinity School, as well as representatives from the city and county councils, to see if an agreement could be reached on improving the situation.

Councillor Barry Earp said he had concerns over the proposed highways layout – especially the existing access road leading down the side of the building from Strand Road.

He said: “There is no one way system, vehicles can go from both ends, it should be a one way system.”

Mr Daniel advised councillors that highways issues were a separate process from planning.

Councillor Ray Bloxham said he was in favour of the scheme but added there was no doubt that there were parking issues in the area because it was convenient for drivers. He said: “We’ve got people parking that have no real business there because of the free parking.”

And councillor Steven Bowditch said he thought it was an “exciting development” but added he was concerned that the highways department had highlighted no problems in the area.

Have your say

Can somebody tell me does the tech as we called it still teach the engineers ,mechanics,brickies,joiners
painter and decorators, hairdressers,catering,secretarys or is it now used for useless degrees so kids can say they went to university rather than a tech collage,in my day, it was full of people learning a worthwhile trade not learning to tie dye

Posted by Davie S on 16 June 2013 at 10:14

what will happen to the brampton road campus? is this not arts cntre...

Posted by m patrickson on 14 June 2013 at 07:29

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