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£10m culture hub could breathe life into city
A NEW £10 million cultural quarter is being drawn up for Worcester – including bars, restaurants, exhibition space and even a theatre or concert venue.
The old Royal Worcester Porcelain buildings behind Severn Street have been bought by a philanthropist who wants to revamp the site into a major arts attraction.
Architects working on the plan have labelled it the most exciting project seen in the city for 25 years and say it was inspired by Paris’s Left Bank.
KKE Architects, based at Diglis Basin, has been asked to come up with proposals for a “classy” development which would attract thousands of people into the city.
Under the move, the empty old factory units will be turned into a major hub for the arts.
Colin Kinnear, of the Bransford Trust, who made his money from founding gas supplier CryoService, has bought the land.
Vincent Kirk, a director at KKE Architects, said: “This will be a game-changer for this part of Worcester. I’ve been involved in architecture in Worcester for a long time and this is the most exciting project seen in the city for 25 years.
“We want to give people a reason to come to that part of the city and if we make it classy enough, they will want to visit the bars and restaurants.
“We’re looking at an arts quarter. We’d love to get a small theatre, art gallery and bars and restaurants.
“It won’t be a commercial scheme as such – it’s being looked at because the client wants to improve the city.”
KKE says no decisions have been made yet on which elements of the proposal will end up part of the final planning application, which is on course to be submitted in the new year.
It will spend the next five weeks completing a feasibility study over the site’s potential before deciding what it will include.
The firm also said it would aim to complement the existing Swan Theatre, which is based at the Moors on the other side of the city, rather than compete with it.
“We’re talking to arts groups all over the city and this is not about taking anything from the Swan Theatre,” said Mr Kirk.
Chris Jaeger, chief executive of Worcester Live, which runs the city’s Swan Theatre, said: “I welcome anything that increases the profile of the arts.”
Councillor Marc Bayliss, deputy leader of the city council and the cabinet member for economic prosperity, said: “It would be great to see those buildings back to life – a cultural quarter which creates jobs and offers support for the arts is very good.”