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Thu June 24 2021

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Go-ahead given for Dundee’s £16m arts centre

11 May 16 Dundee City Council has granted planning permission to the High School of Dundee for a proposal to transform the city’s former head post office into a £16m arts centre that will also be available for use by the wider community.

The building dates from 1898 and was rescued by the school in 2013 after lying unused for a number of years.

Work to strip out and restore the building to its original structure has already been completed as the project prepares to enter a final detailed design phase. This will be followed by pre-construction reports and then ultimately a tendering process for the construction work itself.

The project will see the building developed to provide learning and teaching facilities for art, drama, music and culinary arts, as well as new dining and catering areas and administrative and social spaces. Key features in the designs include a 300+ seat auditorium, a range of drama and music technical and performance spaces, a recording studio and a roof terrace that also offers the potential to be used as an outdoor classroom.

The rector of the High School of Dundee, Dr John Halliday, said: "The transformative impact of the creative arts on lives is well documented and this building will enable us to realise the dream of widening and deepening access to music, drama and art and design.

"It is at the heart of the city and will be offered for community use. We have designed our plans to complement the city's aspirations for V&A Dundee and the waterfront redevelopment, and to enable the school to make an exciting contribution to Dundee's burgeoning reputation as a city of culture, initiative and design.”

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He added: "To raise money for the project the school has launched a five-year fundraising drive which represents the most ambitious capital campaign ever embarked upon by a UK independent school.”

Leisure and Culture Dundee head of cultural services Billy Gartley said: "The proposed development of the former Head Post Office by the High School of Dundee is an excellent opportunity to develop a new space which will enhance the city's cultural offering.  This is another great example of the cultural ambition of Dundee."

Nick Parr, chief executive of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, said: "Having seen inside this historic building recently, I can see the potential for both the High School of Dundee and the rest of the City. The Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre are always looking for interesting new spaces to work in and the former Head Post Office building will be an exciting addition to the City's cultural portfolio."

Nicola Walls is the lead architect and head of arts and culture at Page\Park, which is also leading a team to restore the world renowned Charles Rennie Mackintosh Glasgow School of Art.  She said: "Page\Park are delighted that the new Centre for Performing and Visual Arts has reached this significant milestone of obtaining planning and listed building consent. We have enjoyed a very constructive dialogue with Dundee City Council over the proposals which will continue as we enter into the detail design phases of the project."

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