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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Cumbrian arts centre wins planning consent to expand

Campaigners who have fought for permission to carry out a £1.5 million redevelopment of an arts centre are overwhelmed they have finally been given the go-ahead.

Kirkgate graphic
Kirkgate Centre plans were approved at appeal

Planning began nearly three years ago for a major transformation at Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Centre but last October members of Allerdale council’s development panel turned the scheme down. Directors at the centre lodged an appeal against the decision and have just found out that it has been successful.

Dr Anna Clark, chair of Kirkgate Arts, which runs the centre, was delighted with the planning inspector’s decision and said the next step was to start raising cash to complete the development.

“After nearly three years of hard work it is very good news. This positive outcome will kick start our efforts to raise the funds to enable this important development to be completed,” she added. “The decision will mean that this vital part of our community will move towards becoming self sufficient, continuing to contribute to Cockermouth’s vibrant arts and cultural scene.”

The plans split opinion in the town when they were revealed.

Allerdale council was sent a 366-name petition in support of the plans and more than 65 letters of support, but was also given a 266-name petition against the scheme and 59 letters of objection.

Against officers’ advice, the authority’s development panel rejected the scheme because it said it was out of keeping with the surrounding conservation area.

The plans include partly demolishing the east and west gables of the former Victorian school and adding two zinc-clad extensions linked to the building with glass walkways.

The extension would 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.

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