Hopes for a theatre and arts centre in the county town have been dashed after eight years trying to bring the facility to fruition.

It has been announced that the project to convert The Maltings building at Brewery Square, Dorchester, into a theatre and arts centre will not now go ahead.

For many years, intense efforts have been made to raise the £12.5m required for the project but, in January 2019, the potential funders of the project met and agreed that unless significant funds were committed by the end of the year then the project would have to come to an end.

A year has passed and, in spite of continued efforts by the board of The Maltings Arts and the other stakeholders, the conclusion has been reached that the project is just not achievable.

Louise Sheaves, chairman of The Maltings Arts, said: ‘We came to this conclusion with a heavy heart, as we and many other organisations and individuals have put a huge amount of effort into the planning, promotion and fundraising efforts for The Maltings. Sadly circumstances have conspired against us and the funding just can not be found. Projects of this scale always require a large number of funders to come together at the right time, but in this case budgetary pressures on all sides have resulted in the funds not coalescing in time to save the scheme.

"I would particularly like to thank Dorset Council, Dorchester Town Council, Arts Council England, Brewery Square Development Company Ltd, Dorchester Arts, Julian and Emma Fellowes, Sir Oliver Letwin and the Duchy of Cornwall for all their extraordinary efforts to make this wonderful project a reality."

It had been hoped The Maltings would create a better arts facility for Dorset’s county town and that challenge remains.

Mark Tattersall, artistic director of Dorchester Arts, said: ‘Having spent the past eight years trying to find a way to make the Maltings a reality I am, of course, bitterly disappointed, but this is the right decision under the circumstances. Dorchester Arts remains committed to providing significantly improved arts facilities in the county town and will continue to work hard to achieve that aim."