Kate Seeger Dorset 105

Is this Community Art Project causing "significant harm"?

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'Blandford Art Hub' trying to bring the arts to Blandford Forum....

We, the community and visitors of Blandford Forum are petitioning Dorset County Planners and Blandford Forum Town Council. We want them to recognise the community need for this art workshop. We believe that the temporary wooden sheds will not cause the community and visitors “significant harm” or detrimentally impact the surrounding area.


I am trying to create a modest home and a starting point for art within the community. It will include different art workshops for all abilities and ages. We want to ensure there is something for everyone, including visitors to our town. Its very important for it to be accessible to all, including those with no transport. So being close to the town centre will help enable this to happen and at the same time generate a diversity of activities within the town centre. Our town centre shops and businesses always struggle with not enough footfall which is a common problem in smaller rural towns. By creating something that is a destination point and will encourage people into the town centre has to be a good thing.

However the project can not proceed and this is why.

There is a small piece of private land south of Nightingale court, just between East St and the car park by M&S. It is foot access only via a small bridge by the car park or through Nightingale Court, East St (DT117ED). It is used as shortcut from the carpark to the high street. Many think it is a public footpath but it is not. It has been run down and overgrown for many many years, in part because landowners don't know what to do with it. Planners keep turning down ideas and that is because most of Blandford Forum is a conservation area. The new land owner agreed for it to be used for the art hub. This is a voluntary non profit project therefore has minimal finances. To get the project established and to see if the location and idea works, it was important to have a simple start up cost.

We were donated two sheds, which will be renovated to make a pleasant and attractive space. We have funding waiting, but cannot go ahead unless the planners grant permission. Once the renovation work has been done the sheds will make an ideal art studio and starting point for this project. Although a private space we still have to go to planning to request a change of use to make these sheds into a community art workshop (they are not considered permitted development due to the land being classed as amenity land). This will initially be for 3 years. If the idea did not work, then the studio sheds could be removed with no lasting damage to the environment and any heritage assets. Unfortunately they will not consider the planning application as they say it's "causing significant harm to the environment". The only way they may consider it is if they know there is overwhelming support, not only from the community but those coming into Blandford and Blandford Town Council.

Is this prospective Community project really causing so much harm?

So if you think

1. There is a need for art within the community and this type of project in Blandford.

2. That it is not causing significant harm to the environment.

3. That the Town Council should vote in favour of supporting the Art Hub planning application and its use of the sheds.

..then please sign this petition. Thank you for your support!”

I am now crowd funding to make this project happen. A new planning application must be submitted. If you feel you are able to give a little we would be truly thankful. Please go to....

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/blandford-art-hub

This is separate from any donations asked for on this petition site which is to help them offer a free service to people like me and not to fund my project. Thankyou again.

Kate Seeger

Project co-ordinator

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