Sherborne Town Council: Grant access to Paddock Garden for £4m arts centre
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The Paddock Project is a vision that unites local and international art and craft in a unique world-class gallery that would put the town at the creative, commercial and cultural centre of Dorset and the region.
The project is being fully funded and supported by a private benefactor who is keen to see Sherborne thrive and develop. For many years there has been an idea to build an arts centre on derelict land between Hound Street and the Market Car Park, but despite a fund raising campaign insufficient money was raised. Now a public spirited patron has guaranteed funds to build and maintain the project. Architectural drawings are now available and reveal a dynamic and exciting modern building which will transform the centre of Sherborne. It will also bring jobs and tourism to Sherborne at a time when many local businesses are struggling.
The project is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Sherborne Castles and many other local organisations. More important, maybe, is the enthusiasm for the project displayed by the local schools in particular the Gryphon School which sees the importance of this project for the young and for future generations in Sherborne.
And yet despite this local support there is a group of people who would like to see Sherborne preserved in aspic and kept as a museum. They fear that the Paddock Gardens, a relatively little used open space, will be destroyed and they are worried that there will be an increase in traffic. The Paddock Gardens will indeed be modified but not destroyed and, as we write, additional parking space in Sherborne is being discussed.
There are currently more empty shops in Sherborne than ever before as well as a boarded up pub. Cheap Street could become a deserted high street, like so many others around the country and local shop keepers desperately need the extra revenue that this project will bring. In Bruton a similar project – the Hauser and Wirth Gallery and Restaurant – has transformed the local economy and ensured a future for the town.
There is a real danger that this wonderful project could be derailed by a tiny but vocal minority. It would be a disaster for Sherborne if the benefactor were to walk away and it is certain that Sherborne would never again be offered an opportunity of this kind.
We the undersigned fully support the building of an art gallery, community arts centre and associated café in the centre of Sherborne and urge Sherborne Town Council to join with us in promoting this wonderful project.
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