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Former NatWest Stowmarket bank taken over by John Peel Centre

PUBLISHED: 17:26 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:26 25 March 2019

Left to right: Councillor Nick Gowrley, Sheila Ravenscroft and councillor Gerard Brewster at the new centre Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL

Left to right: Councillor Nick Gowrley, Sheila Ravenscroft and councillor Gerard Brewster at the new centre Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL

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A former bank in Stowmarket is set for a new lease of life as a community hub for entertainment after it was taken over by the world-famous John Peel Centre.

Ther NatWest building in Market Place, Stowmarket Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCILTher NatWest building in Market Place, Stowmarket Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL

The old NatWest building, which is hoped to become a centre for art, leisure and entertainment, looks one step closer to opening after its keys were handed to the nearby centre for creative arts.

The centre in Church Walk, named after the late BBC Radio 1 DJ, will hold the keys for an initial five months.

It is said that the arts centre, which hosts music, poetry and comedy events, will seek local views on how the space can be best used in the future.

Sheila Ravenscroft, patron of the John Peel Centre, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Stowmarket and for the John Peel Centre.

“We take pride in the variety of original music, poetry, film, theatre, comedy and private events we already host at our centre in Church Walk, but this partnership gives us a presence right in the heart of the town.

“Now we’re looking forward to exploring exactly how we can work together with the public and other venues in the town to bring a real vibrancy into the town centre – that’s a legacy John would have loved.”

Councillor Gerard Brewster added: “It’s wonderful that this vacant building in the heart of the town centre will enjoy a new lease of life as a gateway for entertainment and leisure in Stowmarket.

“Boosting visitors to our high street and market, and giving local residents a new and exciting community space in the heart of the town is great news for the town.”

Mr Brewster’s optimism was echoed by colleague Nick Gowrley, who said: “We’re really excited about the future of the building and what it means for the town.

“Planning permission for a change of use to food and drink, assembly and leisure was approved unanimously last summer and now, by working with the John Peel Centre, we can start to think about exactly how that could work – and how we might showcase the town’s many attractions from this central site.”

Mid Suffolk District Council purchased the building - which had been vacant since NatWest’s departure in September 2017 - last year, having submitted a planning application to change the use of the Grade II listed building to a ‘mixed uses’ building.

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