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£3 million plan for ambitious Tamworth Creative Quarter

By Tamworth Herald  |  Posted: April 03, 2014

By Ashley Preece

  • Tamworth reborn: The proposed Creative Quarter in all its glory.

  • The car park at the back of the Carnegie Centre is the site of the proposed new public realm.

  • The Philip Dix Centre will be converted into 15 small business units to accommodate new start up and growing small businesses in the town centre.

  • Plans have been made to turn the locally listed Carnegie Centre into a quality restaurant that enhances and improves the night time offer in Tamworth.

  • This could look like a vibrant and cultural hotspot in 12 to 18 months time.

  • The current library will be enhanced offering more flexible internal space and an improved exterior, turning it into a 21st Century educational resource.

  • The heritage of Tamworth Assembly Rooms will be preserved for future generations, with work being undertaken to restore its key features and enhance its current offer.

  • Tamworth Tourist Information Centre, within the Philip Dix, will remain open as a resource for tourists and the community.

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AMBITIOUS plans to transform the town centre into a vibrant and buzzing social quarter have been revealed as part of a revolutionary £3million project.

The Tamworth Creative Quarter would breathe a new lease of life into the town and help launch a fresh and exciting identity – with work starting as soon as next year.

Major developments are planned in and around Corporation Street, which would include improvements to the Tamworth Assembly Rooms, Philip Dix Centre and a new 60-cover restaurant inside the Carnegie Centre.

A 'public realm' at the back of the Carnegie Centre is set to become the focal point of the project – offering an attractive, European-style meeting and relaxing space which will connect the Quarter to the rest of the town centre.

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The development aims to attract a new wave of visitors and celebrate the town's iconic heritage.

External funding is still required for work to go ahead but Tamworth Borough Council remains hopeful that bids being made would be successful.

A NEW ERA FOR TAMWORTH TOWN CENTRE

AN exciting new multi-million pound project to regenerate the town centre has been exclusively unveiled .

The ambitious Creative Quarter scheme, which is estimated would cost more than £3million, will see improvements to the Carnegie Centre, Assembly Rooms, Philip Dix Centre and areas around the library.

Delivering the Creative Quarter, which also requires external funding, will be Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council.

The aim of the project is to attract a new wave of people and celebrate the town's heritage – although not enough funds are in place for the go ahead just yet.

Tamworth Councillor Steve Claymore, Cabinet member for economic development, said: "This project would have a major positive impact on our town centre for businesses, visitors and residents.

"The Creative Quarter will directly and indirectly create jobs and support increased footfall in the town centre. It supports our vision for a more diverse town centre based on leisure, culture, heritage, independent shops, services and a sense of community."

Cllr Claymore also emphasised that the regeneration was dependant on external funding, but was hoping that the bids being made would be successful.

Prospective plans will see the area in Corporation Street become a "busy and attractive square", with the new public realm becoming the focal point of the Creative Quarter.

The public realm will offer people a high quality public place for meeting and relaxing and will include bespoke seating and lighting. It will also connect the Quarter to the rest of the town centre.

"It is the ideal location to develop a creative quarter; with the Assembly Rooms at the heart of the project, supported by a restaurant, improved links to the rest of the town and encouraging new and small businesses to operate in the town centre," added Cllr Claymore.

As well as plans to develop and improve the 125-year-old Assembly Rooms, the project could see a new 60-cover restaurant based at the Carnegie Centre – which would improve night time economy and increase visitor numbers from a wider area.

Inside the Philip Dix Centre, 15 pop-up business units are to be built to help establish small and new businesses to direct economy to the town.

"Not only would this support new and existing businesses and help create jobs, but it would also see the rents being invested into other projects including the possibility to link the proposed Creative Quarter to the former Gungate shopping centre," said a council spokesperson.

Improvements to the front of the library – which will overlook the public realm – are also part of the developments. The library will be modernised, lit up of an evening and galleries will be showcased in the windows.

Improved links from the railway station, town centre and Ventura Park are also intended as part of the ongoing Gateways work.

The majority of the £3million funding would come from external sources, such as Heritage Lottery Funding, Staffordshire County Council and the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as well as the Stoke & Staffordshire LEP.

And it is estimated that 65 new full-time jobs will be created and potentially 50 new businesses set up as a result.

Broad costs, which are still being finalised, are as follows:

- £2.3million for the development of the Tamworth Assembly Rooms, funded partly by a Heritage Lottery Fund application which will be submitted in June 2014.

- £120,000 from the private sector to develop the 60-cover restaurant at the Carnegie Centre.

- £450,000 to develop the library, improve links with the rest of the town centre and provide landscaping, seating and lighting.

- £450,000 to develop the incubation units at the Philip Dix Centre.

The Borough Council have also identified £400,000 as match funding for the Assembly Rooms project.

Planning applications for the area in and around Corporation Street, which sits on the out of town bus routes, are likely to be submitted to support the funding applications. However no work would start until 2015 at the earliest.

Consultations with the tenants have begun and they have been told to stay where they are for the foreseeable future until plans and the required funding has been given the all clear.

The borough council is also working with the current tenants of both the Philip Dix and the Carnegie Centre to discuss their needs and potential relocation and additional support.

Members of the public will be given opportunities to voice their opinion as the project progresses.

Finally, if and when planning applications go in, Tamworth Borough Council will consult people and residents nearby.

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  • SercoHater  |  April 17 2014, 11:16AM

    Make it a big, FREE car park instead! Tamworth has already turned away hordes of potential visitors with hyperactive "gotcha" attitude to £80 car park fine opportunism. As they sow, so will they reap. In spades!

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