Gloucestershire

Cheltenham Axiom: Benefactor issues community plea

The derelict former Axiom building in Cheltenham Image copyright Let's buy the Axiom
Image caption DTZ says it has received "a number of offers" since it put the centre up for sale last month

Benefactors who want to fund the restoration of a derelict arts centre in Cheltenham have pleaded with other bidders to let it become community-run.

Wealthy local resident Hekmat Kaveh, 54, has offered to pay for the purchase and renovation of the old Axiom site.

Mr and Mrs Kaveh say they have put in a cash bid above the asking price of £500,000, which is being considered.

He followed it with a plea to other developers to allow this one building to remain public.

The philanthropist and his wife Haleh - whose identities were initially kept anonymous - live in Pittville, a short walk from the site which has lain derelict since it closed 13 years ago.

Image copyright Let's buy the Axiom
Image caption Campaigners want to re-open the Axiom as a community arts and music venue

Mr Kaveh said he had become involved due to a "combination of things", highlighting his interest as a retired architect along with his interest in the arts and education.

"In addition it is a building I have known for most of my adult life, and I would love to see it come back into community use," he said.

It has previously been estimated that it would cost more than £500,000 to buy the site and £300,000 to refurbish it.

'Concern understood'

Mr Kaveh suggested there was also strong interest in the site from the commercial developer, which is spending £65m on turning the neighbouring former Odeon cinema complex into shops and homes.

He said: "What we have in mind, I don't believe, would jeopardise anything they are doing.

"I can understand their concern that they have a block and a little piece of it might not be owned by them.

"We want to reassure them - all we want to do is effectively use this for the community, and I hope we can work together with the developer."

He suggested the doors of the restored arts centre could be open in approximately two years.

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