Sculpture studio plan for Hambrook rejected

Supporters of the studio idea at the planning committee meeting. Left to right: Mr McDade from the art department of Chichester University, Carla Allen from South Down College, Clare Hindle from the Cass Sculpture Foundation, Laura Ford, Andrew Sabin and their architect.
Supporters of the studio idea at the planning committee meeting. Left to right: Mr McDade from the art department of Chichester University, Carla Allen from South Down College, Clare Hindle from the Cass Sculpture Foundation, Laura Ford, Andrew Sabin and their architect.

A decision to reject a live-in sculpture studio for two internationally recognised artists in Hambrook is a ‘travesty for Chichester’, supporters said after yesterdays meeting.

The plans, backed by Pallant House Gallery and the University of Chichester, explained that artists Andrew Sabin and Laura Ford intended to open up the workshop in Brook Farm in Priors Leaze Lane to visiting artists and to provide work experience and educational opportunities.

But a vote saw councillors agree with council officers who had said the development would be too ‘bulky’ for its rural location.

Mr Sabin has said he intends to appeal the decision on the plans to replace an existing workshop with a studio, exhibition space and accommodation for the couple and for visiting artists.

The committee acknowledged a ’significant’ level of public support and the cultural benefits of the application, supported by representations from the Cass Sculpture Foundation and South Downs College.

Cllr Tricia Tassel said it was a ‘no-brainer’ that the plan should be accepted. She said: “I think we’re incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to have such an amazing asset on our doorstep.”

But opinion was split as other councillors agreed with officers that the two-storey building would be too imposing for the landscape, even if that landscape wasn’t picturesque.

Officers said their recommendation to refuse the project had been a ‘very difficult decision’ but the very popularity of the scheme only aggravated the need for the site to be in a more accessible and sustainable location.

Cllr Mark Dunn said it was an ‘agonising decision’ between planning reasons and support for the arts, but said he couldn’t support the project.

Councillors refused the plan by eight votes to six.

Speaking after the meeting, Laura Ford said she had enjoyed worthing with young artists elsewhere. She said: “Within the area, there are so many amazing creative people that want to find space to do [sculpture], so it was an opportunity to find space for this to happen. We’ll appeal.”

Clare Hindle from the Cass Sculpture Foundation said she thought councillors hadn’t understood how important the proposals were in terms of opportunity for developing artists.

She said: “I think it’s being extremely narrow minded, it’s a travesty for Chichester. It’s so rare, and to think that we could have had this within a stone’s throw of Chichester centre.”

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