December 1, 2022 11.00 am This story is over 16 months old

Gallery to become dental practice, despite art lovers’ pleas

Objectors said city has a “cultural deficit”

Plans to convert the former Sam Scorer Gallery in Lincoln into a dental practice have been approved.

The City of Lincoln Council’s Planning Committee voted to approve ETS Align’s proposals to change the use of the Drury Lane site, including the installation of solar panels.

However objectors fear the loss of the venue would be a “cultural blunder”.

Since it was first submitted, the application has been revised to include fewer solar panels and the addition of a window to the west.

Officers said the principle of the use of the vacant commercial premises was “acceptable” and that proposed alterations to the shop-front were “sympathetic”

They said the addition of a new window and solar panels would not cause harm.

Roger Rippon, speaking on behalf of the applicant, explained the practice would offer specialist orthodontic surgery such as teeth straightening and braces.

“This specialist surgery will provide much needed orthodontic services for Lincoln and the surrounding area,” he said.

“Local demand for this specialist primary care treatment on the NHS is so high that the current waiting time for treatment is between four and five years.”

The plans had received a number of objections lamenting the loss of the gallery.

Objectors argued that the gallery was part of the city’s heritage with one objector prior to the meeting calling the change a “cultural blunder” and indicating they might try to save it if permission was refused.

Colin Dudman, a local resident, said: “Whilst nobody doubts for more dental practices are needed, do we really want to pay the price of giving up Lincoln’s most important contemporary art gallery?

“This on top of the loss of our arts centre, the Drill Hall, and access to the town’s wonderful Steinway Grand Piano – all of this adds to our current cultural deficit and diversity in this town.”

Councillor Rebecca Longbottom said there was an “immense strength of feeling” that the gallery was an important community facility.

She said the council’s own Local Plan: “Sets the scene by describing Lincoln as one of England’s key heritage cities.

“It talks about the importance of our visitor attractions and states any development which results in the loss of facilities or visitor attractions will not be permitted except under very stringent conditions and the Sam Scorer is so very obviously, an example of one of these attractions.”

The gallery closed in September after more than 20 years of exhibiting Lincolnshire artists.

Stats show Lincolnshire is one of the hardest places in the country to find a dentist, with many practices not taking new patients on.

The proposed practice would operate from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

The application says it would create six full-time and two part-time jobs.

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