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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Community centre refurbishment

Details of plans to refurbish a “dilapidated” community centre in Shipley have been revealed.

The Kirkgate Centre is subject to a new planning application that will see the building transformed into a facility that “will offer contemporary spaces but retain the existing charm of the building.”

Built as a town centre school in 1858, the centre became a community facility in the 1970s.

It is currently used by two charities – Kirkgate Centre and Hive.

The building, on Kirkgate opposite Shipley Town Hall, is due to be part of Shipley’s £25m “Towns Fund” scheme, which uses Government cash to regenerate the town.

Some of the money from the fund will be used to help turn the centre into a “Sustainable Community Hub.”

Now a planning application for the refurbishment of the building has been submitted by Community Arts Umbrella.

The plans show that some more modern extensions to the building will be demolished and replaced, and that the whole building will undergo a full refurbishment.

The work will create a new café area and community hall.

The application says: “The two charities have occupied the same building since the 1980s, with Kirkgate Centre occupying the ground floor and Hive residing in the lower ground floor.

“Craft courses, workshops and projects are delivered by staff, artists, tutors and volunteers to improve the quality of life for the local community. Rooms and spaces are regularly hired by local organisations, groups and individuals to support the social needs of the community.

“The charities, whilst successful, are constrained by a dilapidated building, which has lacked investment over the years.

“This has resulted in the building being in need of extensive repairs and refurbishment. Previous extensions that were added to the main building over the years, comprising of two on the ground floor and one on the lower ground floor are in very poor condition.

“The newly restored building will provide a modern and fit for purpose spaces where both charities can thrive.

“A new extension to the main entrance of Kirkgate Centre will provide improved access, a reception area and will flow into a new café area.

“The internal layout will be reconfigured to provide a better flow and allow a dedicated separate community hall, rather than a hall with rooms off and a café area within it.

“It is considered that the proposal for refurbishment and extension of the existing Kirkgate Centre and Hive building will vastly improve the existing facilities, environment and offering for the Shipley community and beyond.

“The existing building is in a state of disrepair and does not reflect the thriving charities that occupy it. The design, configuration, and proposed palette of materials for this proposal are of quality and will result in a modern and fit for purpose building, which will offer contemporary spaces but retain the existing charm of the building, by keeping and enhancing its original features.”

A decision on the application is expected in May.

When it was first announced that the centre would be a key part of the Towns Fund scheme, a report into the plans said: “The creation of a new sustainable community hub will provide our town with a place to meet, gather, and connect with one another in a safe environment.

“The project will create a community resource delivering volunteering opportunities, upskilling, reducing isolation, improving wellbeing, holding social community events alongside targeted access to specialist creative facilities and equipment.”

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