Cultural village details unveiled

DETAILS were unveiled today of a multi-million pound redevelopment of Suffolk's top tourist attraction to create a "cultural village" with a national centre for music and the arts.

DETAILS were unveiled today of a multi-million pound redevelopment of Suffolk's top tourist attraction to create a "cultural village" with a national centre for music and the arts.

Planners will decide next week whether the project to convert redundant buildings at Snape Maltings - exclusively revealed in the Evening Star two months ago - can go ahead.

The scheme will see the attraction, home of the Aldeburgh Productions' world famous concert hall and the Britten Pears School of Music, transformed with:

n new studio/rehearsal space to create a new music campus;

n 500 sq m Heritage Centre for heritage and nature conservation groups;

n more shops;

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n and 65 homes.

The music development alone is expected to cost £4 million and will feature artists' work space, a rehearsal studio the size of the Concert Hall stage and suitable for rehearsing orchestras, and two small studios.

Additional office space to accommodate some 14 extra staff and possible relocation of existing office staff is also proposed, and the masterplan suggests the courtyard areas be developed as a meeting point or campus centre.

There has been growing concern at the deterioration of some of the grade two listed 19th and early 20th century buildings on the 22-acre site.

A report for Suffolk Coastal council's north area development control sub committee on March 30 said only 40 per cent of the floor space at the complex is currently used and buildings have suffered serious disrepair and dereliction.

The report stated: "Many of the buildings in serious decline lie adjacent to public areas within the site, so that in terms of health and safety as well as the preservation of the site for its historic and architectural importance and as a feature within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it has become imperative to find suitable long term uses for the significant vacant floor space at the complex."

The report recommends approval for the plans, which were submitted by George Gooderham (Investments) Ltd and Aldeburgh Productions.

However, agreement will need to be reached on the payment of contributions towards affordable housing locally and play and sports for the area.

Measures need to be agreed to protect rare Barbastelle bats believed to be living in some of the buildings, and also action on lighting, landscaping, traffic, parking and phasing.

As well as its music activities, the maltings currently include a cluster of shops, a public house and tea room, and attracts 500,000 visitors a year.

n. Do you like the plans? What else would you like to see? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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