Gather is a new arts and community base. Also does coffee. Or it is coffee with a topping of arts? Its location at Ludlow Community Hospital in the former maternity unit has been controversial since the applications for planning consent and licencing were published at the end of last year.

There has been a lot of work to clarify what is proposed and to sort out the permissions. But I am satisfied that we have got it right. The premises will have a cap of 50 people at any one time. Separate permissions have restricted use of car parking spaces to 12, leaving more than 60 spaces for staff, in-patients and visitors. The NHS has allocated spaces for emergency and longer stay ambulances.

Far from being the end of Ludlow Community Hospital as a few people have claimed, it is the start of regeneration in East Hamlet. Community hospitals have always been embedded in their communities.

SY8 Studios incorporating Gather

There is urgent work to do on restarting discussions creative therapy in hospital and care settings. These had to be halted because of the ferocious social media storm. I can’t involve the NHS in controversy like this. I will restart those discussions with the Integrated Care Board (Shropshire’s NHS bosses) next week.

Gather and many others can be involved in bring the arts, poetry, stories, painting into the hospital and other care settings.

Gather is of course not our only cultural base in Ludlow. We are a town full of talent in the creative arts. We want to grow that. We need to rethink our town which looks a bit out of sorts of late.

This is the right planning decision. Gather is right for the site.

Gather is unique as far as I know in that it is funded by coffee. Hundred House Coffee,  which makes money in the usual entrepreneurial way and then supports art and community projects. It is a brilliant concept. I can say this with a clean conscience because I hate coffee!

The rows are over. I respect the objectors’ opinions but we got the right decisions in the end. Now we need to support Gather and support our town. We are a creative town and we need to welcome new ways of doing things. New ways of keeping Ludlow alive and thriving.

Gather is just one brick in the wall. We need to bring more innovators into our town. Gather them here.

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