Duke’s, the leading auctioneers and valuers, has unveiled ambitious plans to create a state of the art auction complex in the heart of Dorchester.
The auctioneers, which is one of Dorset’s oldest businesses, established in 1823, has acquired the freehold of Pullman Court, which is immediately adjacent to the new Brewery Square development.
The large redundant office building offers over 15,000 sq ft of space and benefits from on-site parking for 80 cars.
Duke’s have submitted plans to transform Pullman Court into a state of the art auction house with an impressive reception area and offices, exhibition space, auction galleries, secure storage and catering facilities.
Externally the building will be given a face lift to improve its appearance and give it a contemporary edge, which harmonises with Brewery Square and the locality.
The streetscape will be further enhanced with imaginative under-lit planting and mature trees.
Dukes are being advised by award winning architects John Stark and Crickmay Partnership, and landscaping will be overseen by a Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner.
The proposed transformation of Pullman Court and the creation of a new arts hub has received widespread plaudits Cabinet Minister and West Dorset MP, Oliver Letwin commented: "I am delighted to hear of these plans to bring an old redundant office building back to life. This is great news for Dorchester."
The scheme has also won approval from the Head of Development at the Duchy of Cornwall in Poundbury, Simon Conibear said: "We see this as a continuation of the renaissance of the county town."
Lord Fellowes of West Stafford the Oscar winning playwright and author) said: "We are so pleased that Duke's are planning to expand into the Brewery Square development. It is already our favourite place to search for works of art and knick-knacks alike, so this can only bring more opportunities to find buried treasure. It is good news for Dorchester and for us. Emma and I wish them well."
The plans are seen as an impressive move by auction industry experts, who have seen Duke’s grow from a good local player into one of the most respected auctioneers in the UK.
Guy Schwinge and Garry Batt of Duke’s said: "We have been looking for new premises for more than a decade to complement our existing operations.
“We never dreamed of finding them at the heart of the new town centre. For us, it represents the perfect opportunity to grow our business and provide superb premises for our clients to visit.
“In simple terms, it is a perfect "out of town solution", with plenty of parking and superb access, but just a few steps from Brewery Square with its excellent range of restaurants at the centre of this vibrant new quarter of the town"
Duke’s are also hoping to forge alliances with public bodies to show art which cannot be shown due to lack of space.
The plans to transform Pullman Court represent major expansion for Duke’s, who have a reputation for making discoveries and handling headline grabbing sales. Recent landmark auctions have included the contents of Melplash Court, (£3.5 million), jades from the Summer Palace (£1.6 million) and the San Marco panels by Fra Angelico, which established a world record at almost £2 million.