Plans revealed for a new Kendal 'culture hub' with galleries, artists’ studios and 100-room hotel

The Westmorland Gazette: Left to right Andy Smith of Cactus Creative and Paul Proctor of Mealbank Estates Left to right Andy Smith of Cactus Creative and Paul Proctor of Mealbank Estates

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.”

 

Comments (23)

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11:09am Thu 26 Dec 13

snuggle-bunny says...

I'm sure we all await this with baited breath- whatever next
I'm sure we all await this with baited breath- whatever next snuggle-bunny

2:52pm Thu 26 Dec 13

KendalSmithy says...

It's worth a try of course, as the buildings will become neglected and derelict within a few years if they're not put to good use. I was soooo looking forward to a new 'Tesco' bridge across the river though!
It's worth a try of course, as the buildings will become neglected and derelict within a few years if they're not put to good use. I was soooo looking forward to a new 'Tesco' bridge across the river though! KendalSmithy

3:21pm Thu 26 Dec 13

hogheaven says...

How would this affect the reinstating of the Canal?
How would this affect the reinstating of the Canal? hogheaven

3:45pm Thu 26 Dec 13

KendalSmithy says...

hogheaven wrote:
How would this affect the reinstating of the Canal?
I would guess this scheme is nothing to do with the canal restoration plans.
(Let me make it clear at this point that although I have the same surname, I'm not Andy, and we're not related.)
[quote][p][bold]hogheaven[/bold] wrote: How would this affect the reinstating of the Canal?[/p][/quote]I would guess this scheme is nothing to do with the canal restoration plans. (Let me make it clear at this point that although I have the same surname, I'm not Andy, and we're not related.) KendalSmithy

10:42pm Thu 26 Dec 13

nickjohn says...

It sounds a great plan and by generating a currently useless area into one of culture for artists / photographers etc it will be a great focal point for Kendal and could attract like minded people into the town. This will help give a diversity and help the town move forward.

Lets just hope the investment is made to do the job properly and we don't end up with a half hearted attempt whilst they all wait for some golden egg from a hotel / property developer..
It sounds a great plan and by generating a currently useless area into one of culture for artists / photographers etc it will be a great focal point for Kendal and could attract like minded people into the town. This will help give a diversity and help the town move forward. Lets just hope the investment is made to do the job properly and we don't end up with a half hearted attempt whilst they all wait for some golden egg from a hotel / property developer.. nickjohn

10:54pm Thu 26 Dec 13

littlemy says...

It can't be worse than K Village, can it ........?
It can't be worse than K Village, can it ........? littlemy

10:57pm Thu 26 Dec 13

KendalSmithy says...

nickjohn wrote:
It sounds a great plan and by generating a currently useless area into one of culture for artists / photographers etc it will be a great focal point for Kendal and could attract like minded people into the town. This will help give a diversity and help the town move forward.

Lets just hope the investment is made to do the job properly and we don't end up with a half hearted attempt whilst they all wait for some golden egg from a hotel / property developer..
It's all to do with money, as always. Running an artisan centre is always costly and therefore risky, as the artists can only pay their rents if they're able to sell their art. So if the place is filled with wild & wacky 'creators' whose artwork enables them to express their innermost emotions but sells nothing, it's bound to failure. However, if a good number of high quality, level-headed artists can be found to occupy the place and pay good rents it'll succeed. Andy Smith has been on the graphics scene in Kendal for many years, so if anybody can find high quality tenants he can, and with Paul Proctor's business backing they stand to make it work.
[quote][p][bold]nickjohn[/bold] wrote: It sounds a great plan and by generating a currently useless area into one of culture for artists / photographers etc it will be a great focal point for Kendal and could attract like minded people into the town. This will help give a diversity and help the town move forward. Lets just hope the investment is made to do the job properly and we don't end up with a half hearted attempt whilst they all wait for some golden egg from a hotel / property developer..[/p][/quote]It's all to do with money, as always. Running an artisan centre is always costly and therefore risky, as the artists can only pay their rents if they're able to sell their art. So if the place is filled with wild & wacky 'creators' whose artwork enables them to express their innermost emotions but sells nothing, it's bound to failure. However, if a good number of high quality, level-headed artists can be found to occupy the place and pay good rents it'll succeed. Andy Smith has been on the graphics scene in Kendal for many years, so if anybody can find high quality tenants he can, and with Paul Proctor's business backing they stand to make it work. KendalSmithy

10:58pm Thu 26 Dec 13

snuggle-bunny says...

want to bet littlemy. the canal regeneration will never happen in a million years. How long is this waffle going to go on for
want to bet littlemy. the canal regeneration will never happen in a million years. How long is this waffle going to go on for snuggle-bunny

11:12pm Thu 26 Dec 13

KendalSmithy says...

snuggle-bunny wrote:
want to bet littlemy. the canal regeneration will never happen in a million years. How long is this waffle going to go on for
If these guys were planning anything at all to do with the canal restoration I'm sure they would be bragging about it in their article. So that's a different topic and whilst their development, if successful, might provide an added impetus to the canal restoration, it doesn't appear to be linked at all at this point in time.
[quote][p][bold]snuggle-bunny[/bold] wrote: want to bet littlemy. the canal regeneration will never happen in a million years. How long is this waffle going to go on for[/p][/quote]If these guys were planning anything at all to do with the canal restoration I'm sure they would be bragging about it in their article. So that's a different topic and whilst their development, if successful, might provide an added impetus to the canal restoration, it doesn't appear to be linked at all at this point in time. KendalSmithy

7:35pm Fri 27 Dec 13

snuggle-bunny says...

Best of luck- I cant wait
Best of luck- I cant wait snuggle-bunny

11:04am Sat 28 Dec 13

shirtbox2003 says...

sldc will throw money at this idea.
sldc will throw money at this idea. shirtbox2003

9:24pm Sat 28 Dec 13

Red Doc says...

They should build houses there instead of destroying green fields.
They should build houses there instead of destroying green fields. Red Doc

10:14pm Sat 28 Dec 13

nickjohn says...

shirtbox2003 wrote:
sldc will throw money at this idea.
SLDC have no money to throw at the idea....
[quote][p][bold]shirtbox2003[/bold] wrote: sldc will throw money at this idea.[/p][/quote]SLDC have no money to throw at the idea.... nickjohn

10:16pm Sat 28 Dec 13

nickjohn says...

Red Doc wrote:
They should build houses there instead of destroying green fields.
I quite agree, the redevelopment of brown field sites should be a priority, people living in the town centre, no matter where they work, will spend money in shops and restaurants which can only be good for the town, and will generate income for the council via their rates.....
[quote][p][bold]Red Doc[/bold] wrote: They should build houses there instead of destroying green fields.[/p][/quote]I quite agree, the redevelopment of brown field sites should be a priority, people living in the town centre, no matter where they work, will spend money in shops and restaurants which can only be good for the town, and will generate income for the council via their rates..... nickjohn

10:38pm Sat 28 Dec 13

shirtbox2003 says...

the row of cottages would be better used as housing as would rest of site and the k centre disaster as well.
the row of cottages would be better used as housing as would rest of site and the k centre disaster as well. shirtbox2003

10:41pm Sat 28 Dec 13

KendalSmithy says...

Red Doc wrote:
They should build houses there instead of destroying green fields.
Good point, but is it a good idea to demolish buildings which are no good for conversion into homes, then build new homes, only to discover we have to find somewhere else to accommodate the new businesses?
[quote][p][bold]Red Doc[/bold] wrote: They should build houses there instead of destroying green fields.[/p][/quote]Good point, but is it a good idea to demolish buildings which are no good for conversion into homes, then build new homes, only to discover we have to find somewhere else to accommodate the new businesses? KendalSmithy

11:07pm Sat 28 Dec 13

nickjohn says...

KendalSmithy wrote:
Red Doc wrote:
They should build houses there instead of destroying green fields.
Good point, but is it a good idea to demolish buildings which are no good for conversion into homes, then build new homes, only to discover we have to find somewhere else to accommodate the new businesses?
Lets be realistic, the cultural proposal has only come along because they have all (Gilkes included) lost the golden egg which was the supermarkets money.
They now have to pull something out of the bag which the planners will buy into and which will make them money (they are property developers not a charity and only have one objective which is to make money) its not too many years ago when Goodacres was bailed out with a promise that nothing would change yet what is left of the old business now, the council dont seem too bothered about that going....
There is an abundance of empty offices in town which should be filled first before yet more come along, at least with houses there is a better than evens chance that they will be occupied, couple this with the requirement for low cost housing as part of the deal and we will get what people want..
[quote][p][bold]KendalSmithy[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Red Doc[/bold] wrote: They should build houses there instead of destroying green fields.[/p][/quote]Good point, but is it a good idea to demolish buildings which are no good for conversion into homes, then build new homes, only to discover we have to find somewhere else to accommodate the new businesses?[/p][/quote]Lets be realistic, the cultural proposal has only come along because they have all (Gilkes included) lost the golden egg which was the supermarkets money. They now have to pull something out of the bag which the planners will buy into and which will make them money (they are property developers not a charity and only have one objective which is to make money) its not too many years ago when Goodacres was bailed out with a promise that nothing would change yet what is left of the old business now, the council dont seem too bothered about that going.... There is an abundance of empty offices in town which should be filled first before yet more come along, at least with houses there is a better than evens chance that they will be occupied, couple this with the requirement for low cost housing as part of the deal and we will get what people want.. nickjohn

9:37am Sun 29 Dec 13

jazzactivist says...

This is a much more sympathetic idea than another boring supermarket, and should help bring artier residents and tourists into Kendal. The town needs more of this type of development to build on its history and really make it the gateway town to the Lakes, but distinct enough from the other Lakes towns.

Kendal could be a lovely, thriving town that is interesting to visit, but it's so disappointing to go there and the main view that hits you is of chain stores and charity shops. Although there are interesting buildings, independent shops, museums and arts venues they aren't immediately noticeable, so more of them will give the town a distinct character and link it back to its history as a textile town. There are plenty of high quality artists and craftspeople in and around the Lakes who need decent, affordable, central studio space. If the row of cottages could be converted into live / work spaces, as has been done in other parts of the country, that would be really useful for artists and craftspeople.

The development of the Yarn Rooms is also more appropriate for the redevelopment of Canal Head as, should the canal project ever come to be, it will be much more suitable to have a marina, arts centre, artists studios, housing and an hotel than to pull up in your holiday narrow boat at the back of Tesco! Good luck with this venture, and I hope it is successful. I'll be a regular visitor once it gets going.
This is a much more sympathetic idea than another boring supermarket, and should help bring artier residents and tourists into Kendal. The town needs more of this type of development to build on its history and really make it the gateway town to the Lakes, but distinct enough from the other Lakes towns. Kendal could be a lovely, thriving town that is interesting to visit, but it's so disappointing to go there and the main view that hits you is of chain stores and charity shops. Although there are interesting buildings, independent shops, museums and arts venues they aren't immediately noticeable, so more of them will give the town a distinct character and link it back to its history as a textile town. There are plenty of high quality artists and craftspeople in and around the Lakes who need decent, affordable, central studio space. If the row of cottages could be converted into live / work spaces, as has been done in other parts of the country, that would be really useful for artists and craftspeople. The development of the Yarn Rooms is also more appropriate for the redevelopment of Canal Head as, should the canal project ever come to be, it will be much more suitable to have a marina, arts centre, artists studios, housing and an hotel than to pull up in your holiday narrow boat at the back of Tesco! Good luck with this venture, and I hope it is successful. I'll be a regular visitor once it gets going. jazzactivist

3:20pm Sun 29 Dec 13

archiebored says...

if we want to attract visitors how about a bowling alley /leisure complex.it will also give holiday makers somewhere to go on the rare occasions when it rains in the lake district.
if we want to attract visitors how about a bowling alley /leisure complex.it will also give holiday makers somewhere to go on the rare occasions when it rains in the lake district. archiebored

7:31pm Sun 29 Dec 13

jazzactivist says...

I'm not against charity shops at all, nickjohn, and often go into a couple in Kendal. I also regularly buy new toiletries, household cleaners, some chocolate etc from Oxfam, as it is genuinely ethical and fair trade. But I do think there are now too many in Kendal. It's the combination of cheap chain stores and charity shops in the main streets that makes the town look poor and run down.

I think the way forward for all towns is to develop a distinct identity, and that will attract the types of people the town wants to attract to live, work and visit. An Arts identity would be great for Kendal, as there is already a scattered arts scene there and other towns in the area don't offer that on a concentrated scale. People always want indoor things to do with our unpredictable weather.

Kendal already has a leisure centre, archiebored, and a bowling alley wouldn't attract the sort of people who will spend their disposable income buying things and visiting attractions in the town, as they will have spent it all on bowling and drinks at the alley!
I'm not against charity shops at all, nickjohn, and often go into a couple in Kendal. I also regularly buy new toiletries, household cleaners, some chocolate etc from Oxfam, as it is genuinely ethical and fair trade. But I do think there are now too many in Kendal. It's the combination of cheap chain stores and charity shops in the main streets that makes the town look poor and run down. I think the way forward for all towns is to develop a distinct identity, and that will attract the types of people the town wants to attract to live, work and visit. An Arts identity would be great for Kendal, as there is already a scattered arts scene there and other towns in the area don't offer that on a concentrated scale. People always want indoor things to do with our unpredictable weather. Kendal already has a leisure centre, archiebored, and a bowling alley wouldn't attract the sort of people who will spend their disposable income buying things and visiting attractions in the town, as they will have spent it all on bowling and drinks at the alley! jazzactivist

6:49pm Mon 30 Dec 13

redhairedgranny says...

With Brettargh Holt being converted to an hotel is there really room in Kendal for another hotel? Especially one consisting of 100 rooms.
With Brettargh Holt being converted to an hotel is there really room in Kendal for another hotel? Especially one consisting of 100 rooms. redhairedgranny

7:45pm Mon 30 Dec 13

nickjohn says...

redhairedgranny wrote:
With Brettargh Holt being converted to an hotel is there really room in Kendal for another hotel? Especially one consisting of 100 rooms.
Brettargh Holt is not in the town centre so there is no guarantee that people staying there will come into town that much whereas another hotel in the town centre could attract people who would be more likely to wander into town on foot and spend money.

Ultimately is it a bad thing to have more "beds" available, the more there are the more people who can come and stay which can only be good..
[quote][p][bold]redhairedgranny[/bold] wrote: With Brettargh Holt being converted to an hotel is there really room in Kendal for another hotel? Especially one consisting of 100 rooms.[/p][/quote]Brettargh Holt is not in the town centre so there is no guarantee that people staying there will come into town that much whereas another hotel in the town centre could attract people who would be more likely to wander into town on foot and spend money. Ultimately is it a bad thing to have more "beds" available, the more there are the more people who can come and stay which can only be good.. nickjohn

12:36pm Tue 31 Dec 13

nickjohn says...

jazzactivist wrote:
I'm not against charity shops at all, nickjohn, and often go into a couple in Kendal. I also regularly buy new toiletries, household cleaners, some chocolate etc from Oxfam, as it is genuinely ethical and fair trade. But I do think there are now too many in Kendal. It's the combination of cheap chain stores and charity shops in the main streets that makes the town look poor and run down.

I think the way forward for all towns is to develop a distinct identity, and that will attract the types of people the town wants to attract to live, work and visit. An Arts identity would be great for Kendal, as there is already a scattered arts scene there and other towns in the area don't offer that on a concentrated scale. People always want indoor things to do with our unpredictable weather.

Kendal already has a leisure centre, archiebored, and a bowling alley wouldn't attract the sort of people who will spend their disposable income buying things and visiting attractions in the town, as they will have spent it all on bowling and drinks at the alley!
I must say your comments about the people who visit bowling alleys are slightly derogatory, what sort of people do you think go to bowling alleys!!

Why wouldn't they be attracted into the town centre?, I know a lot of people who go bowling in Morecambe and the majority of them go for a meal on the way home.. The bowling alley also gives jobs to the local community, these people in turn spend money locally..
[quote][p][bold]jazzactivist[/bold] wrote: I'm not against charity shops at all, nickjohn, and often go into a couple in Kendal. I also regularly buy new toiletries, household cleaners, some chocolate etc from Oxfam, as it is genuinely ethical and fair trade. But I do think there are now too many in Kendal. It's the combination of cheap chain stores and charity shops in the main streets that makes the town look poor and run down. I think the way forward for all towns is to develop a distinct identity, and that will attract the types of people the town wants to attract to live, work and visit. An Arts identity would be great for Kendal, as there is already a scattered arts scene there and other towns in the area don't offer that on a concentrated scale. People always want indoor things to do with our unpredictable weather. Kendal already has a leisure centre, archiebored, and a bowling alley wouldn't attract the sort of people who will spend their disposable income buying things and visiting attractions in the town, as they will have spent it all on bowling and drinks at the alley![/p][/quote]I must say your comments about the people who visit bowling alleys are slightly derogatory, what sort of people do you think go to bowling alleys!! Why wouldn't they be attracted into the town centre?, I know a lot of people who go bowling in Morecambe and the majority of them go for a meal on the way home.. The bowling alley also gives jobs to the local community, these people in turn spend money locally.. nickjohn

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