BOSSES running a Whitehaven women’s centre are pursuing plans to make use of a building in the heart of the town despite having a new base in Kells.

The women’s centre was originally intended to be in the Assembly Rooms building which requires work costing £1m.

When this proved to be unaffordable, a decision was taken to open the WOW! (Women out West) Centre at the Haig Enterprise Park instead.

But bosses have not given up hope on securing the town centre venue, with the original plans approved at a recent meeting of Copeland’s planning panel.

Rachel Holliday, founder and CEO of the centre said the organisation still hopes that more grant money becomes available to refurbish this building too.

Under the plans, the upper floors of the Assembly Rooms would be transformed into a B&B while the ground floor would become a “conference facility” to generate cash for the Women’s Centre in Kells.

“In the future we might need additional premises space,” Ms Holliday added.

She also would not rule out that the Women’s Centre could ultimately be re-located from Kells to the Assembly Rooms.

In September 2018, Copeland Council agreed to lease 14-15 Howgill Street for a peppercorn rent (£1 per year) to allow the building to be used as a women’s centre.

Following the recent decision by Copeland’s planning panel to allow the building to be developed, Mayor Mike Starkie said: “I wholeheartedly welcome our planning panel’s decision to allow this building on Howgill Street to be redeveloped to allow for the possibility of a women’s centre in Whitehaven town centre.

“There are far too many women in Copeland who find themselves, and often their children, in situations that require intervention from a variety of agencies to see them through often difficult, stressful and worrying times. At Copeland Council, we continue to prioritise social wellbeing, and our ongoing support for the women’s centre – coupled with our service to assist those affected by domestic violence with our dedicated support worker – are examples of this commitment.”

The centre is designed to help women in all kinds of circumstances, from victims of domestic violence, to those affected by separation or divorce, women living in poverty or on low incomes, to those who want to set up their own business.

The centre in Kells has cost about £170,000 to get up and running, funded by the Ministry of Justice, with support from Copeland MP Trudy Harrison.