Kirkgate Centre Plans

A letter in the Times & Star last week stated that ‘Cockermouth Civic Trust was objecting to the proposed use of modern materials in the scheme to enhance the facilities’ at the Kirkgate Centre. This is simply not true and the actual comments made by the Civic Trust can be seen on the Allerdale BC web site.

Firstly, the Civic Trust has not objected to the proposed plans, indeed we are the organisation that initially saved the building for the community and we wish to see the Centre’s development and continued success. Secondly, we do not have a problem with the use of modern materials, either in general in Cockermouth or for the Kirkgate Centre in particular, as long as their use enhances the building & its local environment.

As the previous writer says, the architecture of Cockermouth ranges through Norman, Medieval, Georgian and modern and should continue to develop in the future. We actually consider that the use of modern materials is right for the proposed extension to the Kirkgate Centre. However, we do have some concerns about the detail of the current design and have defined these in our comments to the Planning Officer.

Furthermore, we have recommended that the design is subjected to independent expert review by ‘Places Matter’, (an architectural & built environment centre for the northwest, which offers design advice to the public & private sector). After all, now is the time to voice any concerns, not after it has been built.

Phil Campbell, Chairman, Cockermouth & District Civic Trust

Comments as submitted to Allerdale:

The Trust do not object to the principle of the proposal to extend and improve the facilities at the centre, in fact as the organisation that saved the school building and set up The Kirkgate we welcome its continued success. However we have reservations and concerns over the proposed appearance and design.

The glazed, open gable of the west elevation is welcoming and adds to the vitality of the streetscape, however this elevation will be read in conjunction with the south elevation which is in stark contrast to the welcoming aesthetic of the west. The material, size and limited fenestration would have a detrimental impact on the immediate area and present an unwelcoming façade to the south.

The same concerns are raised for the rear extension (east elevation) which is of the same harsh aesthetic. In contrast the north elevation is articulated to the level of confusion with many disparate forms and materials adopted. Whilst the extensions to this elevation are the least visible to public view it adds to the overall bulk of the proposal that seems excessive for such a restricted site.

Given the nature and probable controversy the proposal presents we suggest an independent review by Places Matter would be a welcome addition to the consultation process.


The full application and public consultation documents can be found on line on the link below.


The Trust submitted further comments as a result of amended proposals  being submitted:

The Trust wish to make the following comments with regards to the amended
proposals submitted on 6 June, 2012.

This later iteration of the design is far more coherent and responds appropriately to the difficult site. The north elevation which we felt was over articulated and confused is now far more restrained with subtle, but important, changes to the fenestration that will allow vistas in and out of the building. The addition of the side window to the south elevation adjacent to the main entrance recognises the importance of that elevation and helps ‘turn’ the corner adding vitality to the street.

The Trust feels these latest amendments have significantly improved the appearance  sufficient for us to support the application. We note and concur with the recent report from Places Matter and would encourage the observations of the panel be considered.

As a general comment the Trust are pleased that the proposal was taken to independent review by Places Matter and hope that the LA recognise the benefits such design reviews can bring. We encourage and hope such a process is more readily applied to any future applications be they for community buildings, housing or commercial proposals.