A NEW arts and crafts ‘hub’ could be created at the popular Tithe barn site at Abbotsbury.

If approved, it will involve replacing the existing space where children used to pet animals, to create artisan craft units each with a sales area.

The Ilchester Estates planning application to Dorset Council allows for some new wooden windows, doors and stud walls to the former cattle barn which was first granted consent for a change of use in 1996.

The area was used, until 2019, for a children’s area for soft play and where they could pet small animals such as guinea pigs. It also featured an artificial cow which could be ‘milked.’

If proposals for the changes are accepted the area will be converted into three self-contained workshops, their residents artists selected for their appeal to visitors. In the longer term this may be expanded to 11 commercial units on the site, together with catering, making it a hub for local arts and crafts.

“The vision is that each workshop has a manufacturing space from which the visitors can view the crafts men and women at work with a separate retail space for the sale of crafts,” said a supporting document with the application.

Application papers for the changes say the external areas will remain largely unaltered with minor changes to the interior safeguarding the building for the future: “Utilising the building as a craft or retail space will enable the creation of an increased commercial floor area whilst still enabling an appreciation of the former use and plan form of the building,” said one of the documents with the application.

The applications says that artist and craftspeople will be chosen for the centre, not for the financial return they might bring, but for their skills and likely attraction to visitors as well as achieving the correct balance with others artists and craftspeople.

Public comments on the proposals remain open until November 12 and can be seen on the Dorset Council website – ref 2021/03611.