The creation of a new cultural quarter for Worcester has moved a step closer, with the submission this week of a planning application to redesign and refurbish a number of Worcester’s Victorian railway arches.
The application, which has been submitted by Worcester firm KKE Architects (http://kkearchitects.co.uk/) on behalf of the University of Worcester is an important milestone in the ambitious £4.5m redevelopment known as The Arches – Worcester (www.thearchesworcester.co.uk).
If approved by Worcester City Council’s planning committee, the proposals will see six railway arches located between Foregate Street Station and the Hive converted in to studios and offices for local artists and creative businesses.
KKE’s designs also include a proposal to create a ‘performance’ Arch where a variety of musicians, actors and artists could stage informal performances and exhibitions.
A number of arches in the same vicinity have already been successfully converted and are now home to thriving small businesses including the Method Roastery (https://methodroastery.com/) The Burger Shop (https://aruleoftum.com/burgershopworc) and The Arch Rivals Pub (https://www.facebook.com/ArchRivalsWorcester/).
“Real craftsmanship and pride went in to building Worcester’s Victorian railway arches and our proposals will completely preserve their unique character including the original exposed brickwork, which has such visual appeal,” says Cllr Adrian Gregson, Chair of Worcester’s Cultural Development Steering Group.
Earlier this year the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport awarded £3m from the Cultural Development Fund, which is administered by Arts Council England, to The Arches-Worcester in a bid led by Worcester City Council.
Peter Knott, Area Director for Arts Council England, said: “This is an exciting and transformative time for Worcester, as the Cultural Development fund helps to build on the creativity that’s at the centre of the city’s future development and we are proud to support the city as The Arches project gets underway.
“We look forward to seeing this project bring people together as a community, create business partnerships and instil civic pride, with an array of festivals and opportunities to celebrate Worcester’s rich history and creative future.”
The application is expected to be considered by Worcester City Council’s planning committee in February 2020. If approved, renovation work is expected to commence in the Spring.
This is one element of a wider masterplan for the area, which when completed will see a new foot and cycle path created which links Foregate Station to the river Severn, following the line of arches.
Worcester based KKE Architects has already been involved in a number of schemes designed to support the city’s expanding range of creative industries, including the Royal Porcelain Works and The Kiln co-working space.
Four brand new festivals will be staged in Worcester in 2020 as part of The Arches-Worcester initiative with the first one, Worcester Light Night, taking place on Thursday 16 January. Further details can be found at www.thearchesworcesterfestivals.co.uk