Extra time given for John Peel project

THE team behind plans to convert a disused building into a vibrant arts venue celebrating the legacy of late DJ John Peel are hoping to be given extra time to work on the project.

STOWMARKET: The team behind plans to convert a disused building into a vibrant arts venue celebrating the legacy of late DJ John Peel are hoping to be given extra time to work on the project.

The steering group aiming to establish a creativity centre at the empty Corn Exchange building, in Stowmarket, were initially given six months to prepare the plans but are set to be given another year.

Enthusiasm for the project is growing and after receiving an encouraging response from the late DJ's family, the steering group, including Mid Suffolk District Council's community safety officer, are feeling optimistic about the project.

John Spitzer said the team was hoping to be given another 12 months to prepare a planning application, secure funding for the site and decide on a name when he meets with Stowmarket Town Council next week.

Mr Spitzer said: “The next step for the project is to determine if we are going to develop a community trust or a community interest company to take over the running of the project or whether we can identify an existing group who can take it on.

“We've had concept drawings that may change but obviously there would be a planning request go in, but we're still a way off that.

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“The next thing would be to name the project and raise some funds. It's owned by the town council and they are agreeing to give us more time to move this project forward.”

He said Mr Peel's name was “definitely suitable” for the site and The John Peel Centre was a popular name choice, along with The Hub, The Hive, The Corn Exchange and The Venue.

He said: “There's been a really strong resurgence for the John Peel Centre. The only thing I would want to make sure is that there is a John Peel draw and a reason why we are naming it. I think that would benefit the project and do justice to the family.”

Mr Peel lived for many years just outside the town until his death in 2004 and his widow Sheila Ravenscroft has said she would be keen for him to be associated with the arts centre in some way.

One possibility is that the site be home to a digital archive of the former Radio 1 legend's work that would help bring in visitors from across the country.

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