Plans revealed for a new Kendal 'culture hub' with galleries, artists’ studios and 100-room hotel (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Plans revealed for a new Kendal 'culture hub' with galleries, artists’ studios and 100-room hotel
A MASTERPLAN to create a thriving ‘cultural quarter’ at Kendal’s Canal Head has been unveiled.
The plan for a complex of studios, galleries and arts workspace is being developed following Tesco’s confirmation that it no longer wants to build a supermarket on the site.
The proposal is a joint venture between Mealbank Estates and Cactus Creative and could also include a residential area, cafe and hotel.
Phase one involves converting the 10,000 sq ft former yarn storage rooms of the Goodacre Carpets factory.
Other buildings on the site have also been earmarked for redevelopment and planning applications are at various stages of preparation or submission.
Phase two is to create a ‘leisure’ area on the site, including performance space, and planning permission has already been granted to turn a row of cottages into 12 small studio units and cafe.
The project also involves developing commercial premises, warehouses and manufacturing space.
Mealbank Estates property developer Paul Proctor said: “We’re also looking to provide a venue for events, such as some of Kendal’s festivals, and a place for gigs, which we’re working on with the Brewery Arts Centre.”
The third phase of the masterplan is to transform the Aynam Road area of the development, which could include a residential property and a 100-room hotel.
The initial project, known as The Yarn Rooms, will include:
- affordable workspace for artists;
- an independent art gallery for hire;
- a photographic studio;
- 7,000 sq.ft warehouse space for creative lectures and performances;
- hands-on workshops, and rehearsal, performance and art exhibition space for students; and
- incubator units for Cumbria’s creative/digital graduates.
Andy Smith, director of Cactus Creative, has been the catalyst for the project and his new design studio will be housed on the first floor of the building and will open in February.
He said: “As well as wanting a post industrial building to house my studio I also wanted to provide affordable space for other local creatives - a place where designers, artists, sculptors, photographers, film-makers and others can meet, work, collaborate, learn and relax.
“Making it affordable is the key – I know a lot of artists that have been driven out of town because of the costs but this is where they want to be.
“We already have the Abbot Hall and the Brewery Arts Centre across the river, and this will add to what I see as a cultural quarter. I want this space to be seen as an independent, dynamic and innovative creative hub for Kendal.”
So far ten artists have committed to renting space in the Yarn Rooms, with four more in negotiations.
Glass designer Jo Vincent, who is due to move into the building in 2014, said: “I wanted to be in Kendal – I’ve been in quite a rural area for years and I just feel a bit isolated. I have looked to move in the past but it’s been very expensive so this space is ideal.”
The Yarn Rooms will be finished by the end of January, with the masterplan for the rest of the cultural quarter yet to be finalised.
A planning application for the residential and leisure areas of the development will be submitted early in the New Year.
Richard Foster, chief executive of the Brewery Arts Centre, said: “We are in very early discussions about how the Brewery may be able to engage with this project.
“The site has huge potential and we will be keenly exploring a number of ideas.”
Janice Benson, administrator for Kendal’s Green Door artists’ group, said: “This is a very positive move for the town.
“We have a buoyant arts scene here but in the past artists have struggled to find the right space for them, so the more choice people have for studios the better.”
Coun Graham Vincent, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing at South Lakeland District Council, said: “I think this is exactly what we need in Kendal – as a town we are gaining a national reputation as a centre for the arts and this will be the perfect environment for many of our creative people to work.”
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