£4.5m Ringwood arts centre plans unveiled

Daily Echo: £2.5m arts centre plans unveiled £2.5m arts centre plans unveiled

PLANS for a £4.5m arts centre have been unveiled for a Hampshire town.

A cinema and theatre could become a reality in Ringwood if the proposal is given the go-ahead.

A project group led by Ringwood and District Community Association (Greyfri-ars) and Ringwood Musical and Dramatic Society (RMDS) has submitted the plans for the arts centre, which would replace the dilapidated Greyfriars Activity Centre next to the library and Blynkbonnie car park.

The project would be independently-funded and would have a 250-seat theatre and cinema that doubles as a large community venue able to seat up to 200 people for social functions.

Also included in the plan are rooms for art clubs, a judo club, a coffee shop, kitchen, a glass foyer and a bar.

Landscaping around the proposed centre would see the current car parking area between Greyfriars and Ringwood Library pedestrianised to form an attractive new “cultural campus” featuring seating areas and planting.

Project group chairman Mike Osborne said the arts centre would provide Ringwood with the one community space it has been lacking for years – a venue for large events.

“A town the size of Ringwood deserves a decent building where large groups can get together – be it for a real cinema experience, a proper theatrical or concert production, dinner dances, proms, exhibitions or live broadcasts of big sporting and cultural events,” he added.

“Ringwood already has a number of smaller halls and meeting rooms and these are well used by the community – so well used, in fact, that the project group believes there will no problem filling the smaller rooms that will also be a feature of the new building.”

RMDS chairman Julian Peckham said: “We have spent a lot of time looking at the fine detail of the feasibility of this project and have left no stone unturned to ensure it can be built and run on a secure financial footing. Funding to build the arts centre will come entirely from voluntary donations, from charitable trusts and grants rather than a levy.”

The building has been designed by Ringwood architects Brennan Williams Lester.

A public meeting will be held in the Greyfriars Activities Centre on Thursday, December 13 from 10.30am. An exhibition of the proposals will be at Greyfriars daily from December 14 to 21.

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