John Peel Centre to expand into former NatWest

The John Peel Centre Picture: MARK LANGFORD

Mid Suffolk District Council has given approval for the John Peel Centre to expand into the former Natwest - Credit: Archant

The expansion of a top Mid Suffolk music venue into a former bank has been given the go-ahead.

Mid Suffolk District Council's cabinet on Monday afternoon gave approval for the John Peel Centre, in Stowmarket, to make use of the former NatWest building adjacent to it on a new 40-year lease at a peppercorn rate.

The council said it would provide a focal front door to the town's Market Place, and help the venue develop its arts and culture offering further.

Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk District Council's cabinet member for economic growth, welcomed the name change Picture...

Mid Suffolk cabinet member for the economy, Gerard Brewster - Credit: Gregg Brown

Councillor Gerard Brewster, cabinet member for the economy at Mid Suffolk's Conservative and Independent group, said: "The position of 11 Market Place offers a front door to the John Peel Centre, enabling the organisation to expand their options and provide a significant heritage and cultural tourism boost for the town, as well as the wider area of Mid Suffolk.

"As well as improving the confidence in marketability of the John Peel Centre through a more visible high street entrance position, works within the building will also enable the John Peel Centre to offer a broader spectrum of events and activities through both reorganised and increased floor space."

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Mr Brewster referenced the £3.6million revamp of the nearby Regal Theatre as another sign of the council's commitment to investing in its cultural activities.

The former NatWest building in Market Place, Stowmarket

The former NatWest building in Market Place, Stowmarket which could house the John Peel Centre for the next 40 years. - Credit: Mid Suffolk District Council

NatWest closed in Stowmarket in September 2017, with the council snapping up the building to ensure it gained the necessary planning permission to be compatible with the venue.

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Gareth Betts-Davies, from the venue, said: "We are massively thrilled about this because it's been a part of the vision for the John Peel Centre since its inception.

"For the last three years this has been a journey we have been really hoping to come to fruition."

The venue said it would be a part of an "exciting, vibrant town centre" and demonstrated the faith councillors had in the space.

Mr Betts-Davies said the venue would begin experimenting with pop-up events and establishing what the community would like to see.

However, he said a host of different options in the long term were a possibility, including additional venue space or recording facilities.

John Matthissen, Mid Suffolk Green councillor and opposition spokesman for assets and investment Pi

Mid Suffolk Green councillor John Matthissen welcomed the decision - Credit: Archant

The deal with the John Peel Centre is conditional on a full business plan being provided by the venue, but the council will retain the freehold of the building.

John Matthissen, from the opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group, said: "All the Green and Liberal Democrat councillors are delighted that this imaginative entertainment venue has been given help by Mid Suffolk Council to contribute even more to the town, having already put Stowmarket on the East Anglian map so successfully."

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