New look for Snape Maltings

MILLIONS of pounds of funding is today being sought to fulfil the dream of creating on Suffolk's coast a "cultural village" with a national centre for music and the arts.

MILLIONS of pounds of funding is today being sought to fulfil the dream of creating on Suffolk's coast a "cultural village" with a national centre for music and the arts.

Organisers of the project to redevelop the county's top tourist attraction, Snape Maltings, have not yet said how much the scheme will cost.

The plans have been endorsed by Arts Council England, with a substantial increase in annual funding, coupled with a £4m grant towards the expansion.

But many millions more will be needed to convert redundant buildings to provide a new studio/rehearsal space to create a new music campus; a 500 sq m Heritage Centre for heritage and nature conservation groups; more shops; and 65 homes.

The music development will feature artists' work space, a rehearsal studio the size of the famous 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 will also be built, and courtyard areas will be developed as a meeting point or campus centre for composers, performers, the audience and the community.

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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.

Aldeburgh Productions said it was delighted the planning application, submitted jointly with the Gooderham family, to develop the use of the Snape Maltings site has now been approved by Suffolk Coastal council.

It is now starting the "enormous task" of raising the funds necessary for the proposals to create an international centre of excellence for music and the arts.

Jonathan Reekie, chief executive of Aldeburgh Productions, said: "This scheme will enhance the cultural and creative landscape of Suffolk, and benefit the local economy.

"We believe it is a major step forward for us and for the local community."

This project is the most important development in Aldeburgh Productions' history since Benjamin Britten realised his vision of a Concert Hall in 1967.

The new vision will create more world-class musical facilities, with more artists and performers year round, more public performances out of season, and more visitors bringing a significant economic benefit to the area in the years ahead.

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, also home to the Britten Pears School of Music.

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

Many of the buildings are in "serious decline" and suitable long term uses were urgently needed. The plans were felt to provide "the most sustainable and practical solution for the future use of the complex" and will complement the existing activities on the site.

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