A FORMER travel agents will be transformed into an arts and community centre, if planning permission is approved.

Chapel Arts Studios has submitted an application to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to covert the former Thomas Cook unit in High Street.

The charity has said it wishes to change the space into a mixed-use arts and community centre, along with an artist studio and retail and art exhibition space. It would also have an office and studio.

To be able to covert the space the space the organisation has been given grants and have applied for further funding.

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The application states: “We have the funding for year one supplied by Arts Council (move-in and building alterations, as well as running costs) and a grant from TVBC to pay for the rent.

“For the following years we have applied for an additional grant from Arts Council and propose to test our commercial income generation before making plans for further grant applications and fundraising activities to finance future years.

“We expect the annual running costs to amount to around £60k. We hope to cover these through grants from Arts Council, local councils and grant making bodies, as well as donations and commercial income.”

If the new centre is approved it is proposed that artwork and art materials will be sold from the retail space at the entrance, along with spaces in art classes.

The charity has said its intention to work towards a full schedule of sessions and will initially open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 6pm and some evenings 7pm-10pm. It is proposed that this will be expanded in following years.

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Alterations to the building will need to be made including the removal of the Bureau de Change and changes to toilet facilities.

In 2009 Test Valley Arts Foundation (TVAF) reopened the previously derelict St Mary’s Chapel in Andover as an artists' studio. This was supported by TVBC granting a peppercorn rent for this endeavour. In 2018 Chapel Arts Studios (CAS) was formally launched when it became a company limited by guarantee and a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England. In 2019 it became a charity.

To view the application, go to view-applications.testvalley.gov.uk/online-applications and search 22/01249/FULLN.

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