The organisers of the Keswick Convention aim to turn vacant site into conference centre
The refurbishment of Keswick’s former pencil factory will create 96 jobs, according to a new report.
Keswick Ministries plans to transform the site into a modern conference centre that will be let commercially to businesses and organisations from around the country for leadership conferences.
It says it will attract 5,000 additional visitors to the town each year outside the main tourist season.
The venue will also be available for Christian and local events.
The report, carried out as part of Keswick Ministries’ application by planning employment consultant MJN PDMC Ltd, claims that this activity would create 30 direct jobs locally and 66 indirect jobs within the supply chain.
Keswick Ministries is a Christian charity and hosts the annual three-week Keswick Convention.
The Convention has been running for more than 140 years and now attracts over 12,000 visitors to Keswick each year.
David Sawday, chief operating officer, said: “It’s a genuinely exciting prospect.
“The pencil factory building has sat empty since 2007, when production of the Derwent pencils moved to Workington.
“We are now creating a facility that will be of great pride and benefit to Keswick.”
The Keswick Ministries team is currently drawing up plans to market the venue and it hopes to host the first conferences in 2022.
“The pencil factory is an iconic building with an amazing heritage. The top floor, where the conference centre will be located, offers stunning views and the opportunity for team activities in the surrounding fell,” said Mr Sawday.
“Altogether, it will make the pencil factory a premier destination for company conferences and we will generate income for local businesses and create real jobs.”
Refurbishment work on the building is due to start in August, when asbestos removal commences.
Building work will begin in spring 2019.
The site will be in use at the convention this summer, with the main marquee moving to the site for the 2020 convention.