Art centre bid for barn

RESTORATION PLAN: Mike Slinn, chairman of Peel Trust, and Ann Brown of The Old Dronfield Society outside the barn..
RESTORATION PLAN: Mike Slinn, chairman of Peel Trust, and Ann Brown of The Old Dronfield Society outside the barn..

Ambitious plans to create a culture and arts centre in one of the oldest buildings in a north Derbyshire town have been given the green light.

Developers are now tasked with raising £½m to restore the ancient barn on High Street, Dronfield, in a project which has been welcomed by the community.

Although the building’s external appearance is 17th century, internal remains of a timber-framed structure with a king-post roof date back to the early 15th century. Historic buildings specialist Stanley Jones, who has carried out a detailed study of the building, is convinced that it was once a medieval hall.

The green light from the planning inspector means developers The Peel Centre Charitable Trust can now launch a £500,000 appeal to restore the building for use by the community.

Mike Slinn, chairman of the trust, said: “We are delighted that that the inspector has recognised the patient work of our project committee and the potential in this incredible building. The hard work begins now as we start to raise the necessary funds to bring the project to completion. We are also pleased that the news has already been greeted with enthusiasm by many organisations and individuals in the town.”

Once transformed, the barn will be the hub for prestigious functions, creative arts, festivals, exhibitions and heritage displays.

Ian Ward, chairman of the newly formed Dronfield and District Creative Arts and Craft Society said: “Our members are excited by the possibility of using this building for arts creation and exhibitions. We also have plans for involving young people and the disadvantaged in arts activities and we can think of no better location for this work.”

Eric Beach, president of Dronfield Rotary Club commented: “Our members have supported this project from the outset and are delighted that this important community venue has now been given the go-ahead.”

A statement for the The Old Dronfield Society said: “The plans for converting this barn as an amenity for the community are in sympathy with the building and its surroundings and will ensure future continuity. We look forward to supporting the work of fund raising which lies ahead and to be one of the many groups, individuals and visitors who will make use of the barn to make this enterprise a success.”

The barn was gifted to The Peel Centre Trust by Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd in 2005.