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Alison Brooks wins planning for Folkestone arts centre - image

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Alison Brooks Architects (ABA) has won planning permission for this new arts and business centre in Folkestone, Kent.

The £4 million project, which won a national competition back in December 2005, is intended to form a central part of an arts-led regeneration of Folkestone, spearheaded by The Creative Foundation.

The scheme will include a 250-seat, 500-standing, multi-purpose auditorium for music, dance, theatre and conferences.

The development will be split over two levels, including a café/bar and a top-floor business enterprise centre.

The intention, the practice claims, is to create an open and accessible building, dubbed 'the living room of Folkestone', that will be a vibrant social hub for the local community.

Shepway District Council voted unanimously in favour of the design, despite advice from the planning department recommending approval only on condition of removing the exterior mesh cladding.

Committee members described the exterior cladding - an array of curved expanded-metal mesh panels forming back-lit 'vertical flutes' - as an 'imaginative and innovative solution integral to the building'.

ABA hopes to start on site this April, with completion set for May 2008.

by Richard Vaughan

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