Dundee mill to become one of Britain's largest cultural spaces, THE SPACES, 27 MARCH 2017

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In addition to the V&A Dundee, opening in 2018, the Scottish city is to gain ‘one of the largest creative spaces in the UK’ when a 19th century mill is redeveloped later this year.

A project to turn West Ward Works, a 200,000-square-foot printing press in a former mill, into a major cultural centre has been announced.

“This exciting project will build on Dundee’s incredible track record of design-led regeneration,” says David Cook, the project’s recently-appointed director. “West Ward has huge potential and could become one of the largest creative spaces in the UK. The next phase of its development will demonstrate the demand for this venture and the potential economic, social and cultural impacts for the city and beyond.”

The space, originally constructed as Dundee’s first fireproof mill in 1806, was bought by DC Thomson, the publisher behind children’s comic Beano, in the 1950s. At its height, more than five million books were printed every year, but the press closed in 2010 and the building lay empty until the inaugural Dundee Design Festival in May 2016.

“West Ward played a key role in delivering the UNESCO City of Design programme when it was used to host Dundee's first design festival,” says director of leisure and communities, Dundee City Council, Stewart Murdoch. Following the success of that event, a second four-day celebration of design will take place in May this year.

“It was fantastic to see West Ward Works transformed into three galleries, a cinema, a café and a 400 seat auditorium to become the home of Dundee Design Festival,” adds Blair Thomson, head of community involvement and development, DC Thomson. “We are delighted that the Dundee Design Festival will take place again in May and we hope to extend this success by developing the building as a permanent creative hub.”

A charitable trust will be established to manage the project, which will be delivered in phases, with the first residents moving in later this year. The configuration is yet to be confirmed, but possibilities include business incubators and an innovation centre, following research by Bryan Beattie of Creative Services. Fundraising is underway and the project has already been accepted into the £1.84bn Tay Cities Deal Programme.

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