AN EMPTY shop in Stratford town centre is to be transformed into a community hub.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has announced plans to set up a multi-purpose learning and community venue at 22 Henley Street close to Shakespeare’s Birthplace.
Formerly the site of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill store, the building has the potential to host tens of thousands of school and learning visits annually, but also facilitate significant use by local community groups.
The detailed planning for the project will begin in earnest, thanks to initial funding from Stratford District Council, which has recently awarded the SBT funding for the scheme through their Community Infrastructure Levy fund.
Draft plans include a number of multi-use rooms inside the building, and the potential for an accessible street facing gallery and exhibition space for local artists. The trust is also planning to work with new and existing community groups to explore other ways to use these flexible spaces to further enhance the culture offer in the town.
The proposed project at 22 Henley Street, part of the trust’s wider museum transformation strategy, is designed to help the trust welcome more groups from a wide and diverse range of audiences back into the centre of Stratford to explore Shakespeare’s legacy, in person.
The SBT has been engaging with local stakeholders over the past six months to scope out the requirements of the local community, including undertaking a community-focused consultation, funded by the Shared Prosperity scheme, that informed the development of the concept.
SBT CEO Tim Cooke said: “The trust is committed to developing its presence and offering in Henley Street in ways which offer a great visitor experience, enable memorable learning events, and foster a strong sense of community and local participation.
“This grant is a really important step in supporting our vision to transform a key building into a thriving learning and community hub which will be a huge asset to life in our town. It’s thrilling to be working with Stratford District Council and other partners on this shared vision.”