The restoration of Whitby’s historic Engine Shed took a huge step forward last week as the project received the unanimous support of Scarborough Borough Council’s planning committee.
The 166-year-old shed is set to be transformed into a gallery and cafe, featuring the work of local artists, and developer Terry Hodgkinson said one committee member congratulated him on the plans and he was glad the ‘engine shed saga’ was drawing to a close.
“It’s fantastic,” said Mr Hodgkinson, a former Yorkshire Forward director who first announced the proposal in the Gazette in January. “We are really pleased with the support that we have been given locally and by the town council and civic society. Everybody seems to be behind it, which is really good news when you are doing a project like this.”
The Grade II listed building will be transformed into a 150 square metres gallery space, including a second mezzanine level.
A projected opening of March 2014 - specifically Mr Hodgkinson’s wedding anniversary to wife Anne on 30 March - coincides with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s plans to open a second platform at Whitby Station and Mr Hodgkinson said he would like to see the two schemes work in tandem to allow a ‘grand opening’.
“Hopefully it will become part of the Whitby scene,” said Mr Hodgkinson, who added there has been a huge interest from artists interested in showcasing their work at the venue.
There will be no charge to the public for entry to the gallery and it will instead receive funds on a commission basis, with the gallery taking a cut from the sales of artwork.
An application for a grant to aid with development costs has been made and now the developers are searching for an operator to manage the 80 table cafe which will form part of the building.
Mr Hodgkinson estimates around 15,000 visitors will pass through the gallery each year, with the creation of 40 jobs.
Work on the project is expected to begin this summer, subject to planning conditions.