Plans for dance school shelved as costs spi­ral

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Transport Update - By Sa­man­tha Wil­liams

Plans to cre­ate a new mul­ti­mil­lion pound dance and theatre space in Ash­ford have been put on hold.

The es­ti­mated cost of the pro­posed In­ter­na­tional Dance Academy at the town’s Stour Cen­tre, which would have pro­vided a new home venue for the award-win­ning Jas­min Vardi­mon Com­pany, has dou­bled, mak­ing the pro­ject un­fea­si­ble.

In ad­di­tion, a £3m grant from the Arts Coun­cil for the scheme has also been with­drawn.

The dis­ap­point­ing news was an­nounced at the July meet­ing of the Ash­ford Strate­gic De­liv­ery Board, which is closed to the public and press, and the re­port for the meet­ing was only re­leased last week.

The re­port states: “The chair­man said by way of in­tro­duc­tion that the coun­cil re­mained very com­mit­ted to Jas­min Vardi­mon (JVC) but un­for­tu­nately the es­ti­mated cost of the pro­posed scheme had now al­most dou­bled and the Arts Coun­cil had also with­drawn their fund­ing.

“It was now un­af­ford­able and was hold­ing up a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment of the Stour Cen­tre which was des­per­ately needed.”

Plans for the dance academy were put for­ward at the end of 2013, and were ear­marked by the coun­cil as one of its “big eight” schemes to en­sure eco­nomic growth and pros­per­ity of the bor­ough.

The scheme would have been

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@ thek­m­ part of a planned re­gen­er­a­tion of the Stour Cen­tre and was sched­uled to be cre­ated on the older side of the build­ing.

It would have in­cluded a 300-seater per­for­mance space and re­hearsal stu­dio and pro­vided a place to show theatre and dance pro­duc­tions in the town.

Orig­i­nally it was ex­pected to cost £8.75m. How­ever, this has now risen to an un­rea­son­able £16m.

The cost es­ca­la­tion is due to a num­ber of fac­tors, in­clud­ing the orig­i­nal bud­get mak­ing in­ad­e­quate al­lowances for in­fla­tion, con­trac­tor mark-ups and de­sign fees, as well as the un­ex­pected need to build an ex­ten­sion to ac­com­mo­date the JVC spa­ces, au­di­to­rium and a new en­trance.

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM2342383

Plans to cre­ate a new home venue for the Jas­min Vardi­mon Com­pany have been put on hold

Jas­min Vardi­mon Com­pany per­form­ing Free­dom

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM3117227

Stour Cen­tre

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