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Dorset art gallery plans scrapped due to pandemic

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A Dorset arts trust has scrapped approved plans for a new art gallery and auditorium due to the fallout from the coronavirus crisis

West Country practice LHC secured consent for the Paddock Project last summer but now client Sherborne Community Arts Centre Trust has canned the scheme.

The announcement comes after a call for urgent funding for the creative industries in the light of the Covid-19 lockdown in a letter to the government. RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance was among the 400 signatories.

Sherborne Community Arts Centre Trust said in a statement: ‘We recently published a newsletter which announced that work on the Paddock Project was suspended, in line with government guidance.

‘Since then, the pandemic crisis has deepened significantly and it is against this background that our benefactor has judged the Paddock Project can no longer proceed as planned, a conclusion which the trustees of the Sherborne Arts Trust regrettably accept.’

The organisation said there was reduced certainty about its future income. ‘We won’t know how much our lives will be changed when we return to normal but it is clear that assumptions about funding and operation that were central to the Paddock business plan can no longer be relied upon.

‘The trustees hope that after all the time, effort and investment that has been sunk into the project, something can be recovered, but that won’t be clear until the dust has settled and we are able to take stock of the new circumstances. Whatever any revised project might look like, it will not be on the same scale as the current design.’

LHC's Paddock Project sketch

LHC’s Paddock Project sketch

LHC’s Paddock Project sketch

LHC’s scheme was due to take place on a former tennis court site next to the Old Market car park in Sherborne town centre.

According to planning documents, it would have been ‘contemporary in design’ with the main gallery forming the tallest element, flat-roofed with a sedum top layer. The design featured a ‘letter box’ window opening and was clad in ashlar stone facing the car park.

The remainder of the building would have been single-storey and clad in metal with a bronze finish. Windows, doors and curtain walling would have been bronze anodised aluminium. There would also have been feature glazing by a specially commissioned artist.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Are we being a little hard if we suggest that Sherborne has proably had a lucky escape?

    Once you take away the obvious disappointment for the client body it has to be said that this would add little to Sherborne in terms of architectural quality.

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