A MANOR house dating from the 17th century is to be converted into an arts hub for cultural and creative activities.

Flook House, in Belvedere Road, which is owned by Somerset West and Taunton Council, will office and studio space for creative organisations and practitioners, as well as a meeting room for community-based programmes, workshops and vocational learning.

The building was previously a register office for births, deaths and marriages and currently houses a number of voluntary groups, but has been underused for many years.

A report suggested demolishing it, but a group of councillors concluded it should be saved and invested in “for its historical interest and potential social value”.

Remedial work has been carried out on the premises and the council awarded a £10,000 grant to Creative Innovation Centre CIC (CICCIC) towards start-up costs, refurbishments and minor renovations.

As the building’s primary tenant and driving force behind the arts hub, CICCIC is managing the project in collaboration with GoCreate Taunton, Somerset Youth Theatre, and multiple artists and designers.

Cllr Caroline Ellis, SWT executive member for culture, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled at the development of the Flook House Arts Hub.

"Our mission as a council is to enhance arts and culture provision in the district and remedying the lack of affordable studio space for artists, creatives and art for the community has been high on our agenda.

"Residents will find exciting new opportunities here and a much-loved historic building has found an exciting new purpose.”

CICCIC director Richard Holt said: “This is a great opportunity for Taunton and by establishing a base where all ages can get involved in workshops, events and hire the space for community activities, means we can provide a much needed safe place using arts and culture to bring individuals and people together.”

Liz Hutchins, director of GoCreate, said: “In the near future we have art workshops for Ukrainian families; rehearsal space for a singing group and youth theatre; health and wellbeing workshops; art classes; and the list keeps growing.

"This would not be possible if we didn’t have the space to deliver these community-based projects."

The nearby former public toilets are in the process of being demolished and will be landscaped with grass and slabs.