John Peel Centre: Stowmarket arts venue given approval to expand

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John Peel

The expansion of a music and arts venue named after legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel has been approved by councillors.

The decision will see the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket move into the town’s former NatWest bank on a 40-year lease from Mid Suffolk District Council, which owns the building.

The bank, adjacent to the Peel Centre, has been vacant since 2017.

Peel lived in the Stowmarket area for many years until his death in 2004.

Former NatWest building

image copyrightMid Suffolk District Council

The Peel Centre’s existing building and entrance is on Church Walk which is parallel to the town’s main shopping street.

The council said it would lease the building at a “peppercorn” rent and said the former bank would offer a “focal front door” onto the Market Place.

Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk’s cabinet member for the economy and part of the council’s Conservative and Independent Group, said the plan provided “a significant heritage and cultural tourism boost for the town, as well as the wider area of Mid Suffolk”.

Mr Brewster referenced the £3.6m revamp of the nearby Regal Theatre as another sign of the council’s commitment to investing in its cultural activities, said the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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.”

John Peel Centre, Stowmarket

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, from the opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group, said they were “delighted this imaginative entertainment venue has been given help by Mid Suffolk to contribute even more to the town”.

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