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"Overwhelmingly positive" response to plans to turn Newbury chapel into art hub

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

dan.cooper@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886632

Art studio design 2
THE PEOPLE behind plans to turn Newbury’s old Methodist Chapel into a community orientated arts hub say they have have received an “overwhelmingly positive” response from local residents. The application to renovate the Hampton Road building into an art gallery and workshop has been submitted to West Berkshire Council for consideration. The plans also include accommodation on a first floor extension above the proposed art workshop. The development is to be carried out by City Arts Newbury, which says it wants to reclaim the building for a positive use that allows the public to have access and enjoy its character. If plans are approved, City Arts plans to set up a charitable trust and apply for grant funding before commencing with the work. As well as operating as a hub for art based activities, it is hoped it can also provide a meeting point for those interested in the “Old City” of Newbury and raise awareness and interest in it. ‘The City’ is a historic old part of the town and covers a small area along Argyle Road and Derby Road - to the West of St John’s roundabout - with several groups of historic Almshouses, the oldest dating back to the 17th century. During the renovation and use of the building, City Arts says it intends to involve the local community, schools, colleges and arts groups as much as possible. It added that the hub would become a thriving part of the local street scene and will be a project which engenders a “true sense of community spirit and co-operation”. As part of the renovation, the front of the chapel hall character will be fully retained, with the windows being refurbished and the brickwork maintained. A public engagement event to present the proposed plans and views and collect feedback from the public was held at the building in February and attracted interest from the community and many local artists. More than 150 people attended the event and City Arts Newbury says that the reaction was “overwhelmingly positive”. The chapel was built in the1850s in Hampton Road and in 1912 became listed as the City Mission Hall. In 1989 the building was purchased by the Lighting Centre, Newbury, who added an internal mezzanine to the hall and used it as storage for their lighting cables and goods. In November 2013, the building was purchased by 10 Hampton Rd Ltd with the intention of offering a long term lease on the property to City Arts Newbury. Newbury based architects CA Sustainable Architecture have been employed to help with the refurbishment. West Berkshire Council is expected to make a decision on June 10.

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