Flax Mill centre may be inspired by Swedes

The potential multi-million pound redevelopment of Shrewsbury's historic Flax Mill could include a Swedish-style cultural centre.

Flax Mill centre may be inspired by Swedes

Developers behind the ambitious plans to bring the long-derelict former maltings site back into use are considering taking inspiration from Sweden's 'kulturhuset' or 'culture house' concept, in which a communal public space plays host to a variety of activities and events.

Marion Blockley, who has recently been appointed to prepare plans for public use of the Flax Mill, should the redevelopment go ahead, told a meeting at Martin Wilson Primary School in Shrewsbury last night that the concept is being considered as an alternative to setting up a traditional museum.

She said interactive exhibits, children's workshops and temporary exhibition spaces could all help to tell the story of the Flax Mill, which as the world's first iron-framed building was the precursor to modern skyscrapers.

Developers have ruled out the prospect of building a traditional museum over concerns it would compete the new £10.5 million Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery being built at the old Music Hall site in the town centre, as well as the lack of original exhibits.

"We have got the stories of the site but we don't have the collections of a museum," she said.

"We have to come up with a way of telling the story different to a museum, but is actually better.

"What we might be creating is a 'kulturhuset', which the Swedes have in every town. These places are not just museums and are designed to be welcoming."

People at the meeting were given questionnaires to fill in with their opinions for how the Flax Mill should be used as part of ongoing consultation work.

Under current plans, the top three floors will be rented to businesses and other organisation, helping subsidise running costs.

Campaigners hope to see businesses, arts groups, bars, restaurants and, eventually, homes created if funding can be secured.

It is hoped £11.6 million can be obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with up to £6 million potentially from the European Regional Development Fund, as part of aims to secure the money needed for the first phase.

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