Parking plan as gallery grand design dies

Terry Hodgkinson on site at the Engine Shed in Whitby''w131620c
Terry Hodgkinson on site at the Engine Shed in Whitby''w131620c

The curse of Whitby’s old engine shed has struck once again after it was announced the 167-year-old building would not become a new visitor attraction in the town.

A lack of available funding has caused developer Terry Hodgkinson to abandon his dreams of opening an art gallery.

He has instead applied for permission to transform the building into a two story car park for residents.

“We are disappointed,” said the property developer and former head of Yorkshire Forward. “It would have been a great facility for Whitby, but it was not to be.”

Over a period of around two years Mr Hodgkinson worked to try and secure funding for the project.

He placed bids for funding with the Arts Council and local authorities, but they chose to prioritise other schemes.

“It’s always a question with public funds about what’s going to generate the most bang for the buck and infrastructure at the business park would probably do that more than an art gallery.

In March Mr Hodgkinson had attempted to sell the building and it was put up for auction, but did not attract a single bid.

After securing the structure of the building with his own money, Mr Hodgkinson appealed to organisations who may be interested in using the building, such as Botham’s and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, but said he received little interest.

This was in part due to the building being away from Whitby town centre, 250 yards away from the train station itself.

“So we sat down and gave some really heavy thought about what we could do with the engine shed, which has been a white elephant for too long,” added Mr Hodgkinson.

Instead of allowing the building to remain derelict, the plan he came up with was to install a first floor and car lift into the building to transform it into a 38-vehicle private car park for residents.

A separate building on the site is set to be converted into a one-bedroom holiday cottage.

“It’s not quite an art gallery,” said Mr Hodgkinson, “But it will provide some badly needed parking in the town.

“In one sense we are disappointed, but in another, the worst thing you can do is spend £250,000 on a project and it not work.”

A planning application has been submitted to the borough council and a decision is due to be made on September 25.