EXCITEMENT is building about the potential creation of an ‘arts hub’ in Gosport’s high street.
Plans have been put in motion for the old Gosport Grammar School building in the high street to be transformed into a heritage museum and arts project – subject to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The project, costing a total of more than £2m, will see £20,000 pledged by Gosport Borough Council for the first stage of the funding application – with the Heritage Lottery Fund covering 45 per cent of the costs.
Further funding has already been secured from Hampshire County Council.
Leader of Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Mark Hook, says that the scheme would be a big improvement to the site.
He said: ‘It’s quite clear that the facilities would be upgraded – and that the changes would improve what we can offer to schools.
‘One of the things we want to do is see better activities and better facilities for education for the young people of Gosport – so a project like this creating a heritage museum is very important.’
The site would feature five artist studios, a museum, a cafe and a retail section – as well as much-needed disabled facilities.
It currently hosts art exhibitions.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Peter Chegwyn, said: ‘This proposal is good news for Gosport.
‘We don’t really have great support for the arts in Gosport, so this would expand the possibilities for that.
‘I really like the idea of having arts studios because they are desperately needed across Hampshire. It would be great to see homegrown artists selling their work to people visiting the high street.’
Cllr Rob Hylands believes that the transformation could provide a unique edge to Gosport High Street.
He said: ‘We all know about the changes being presented with high streets and to have a facility such as this could be quite a drive for people, which will hopefully help to regenerate the high street with more people coming visiting.’
Cllr Chris Carter says that the building would complement the Discovery Centre, which recently underwent a major redevelopment.
He said: ‘This building is essentially still the old grammar school building.
‘The Gallery puts on fantastic exhibitions but because it’s round the corner many people just walk on by without noticing it.
‘To link it up with the Discovery Centre across the road is a brilliant opportunity.’
If the funding application is successful, the project will be undertaken by Hampshire Cultural Trust, Hampshire County Council and Gosport Borough Council.
It is hoped that construction and delivery would be completed in 2021.