COUNCILLORS in St Ives have thrown their weight behind the £10.5 million plan to expand Tate St Ives into the hillside above Porthmeor Beach.
The town council has given its unanimous support to create new gallery space, extending the rear of the award-winning attraction.
Councillors were given a presentation of detailed plans for Phase Two of the former St Ives gas works site by Cornwall Council development officer Jeremy Content.
Tate St Ives' executive director Mark Osterfield said: "I am delighted, this is a strong message from the town that we have got the project right."
The gallery attracts more than 200,000 visitors to St Ives each year and contributes an estimated £12m a year to the local economy.
The council's blessing is the latest development in the Phase Two plan to expand by developing on part of the former Meadows flats sites purchased by Cornwall Council for £1.5m from Penwith Housing Association.
The Tate has estimated the development costs for a new learning centre and additional gallery space, offices and toilets, at around £10.5m. Cornwall Council has agreed to put in £2.5m of that on top of the money spent on the land.
The Tate aims to secure the rest of the funding from other bodies like the Arts Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
As part of a bid to secure grant funding, Tate St Ives last renegotiated its £85,000 per year rental deal with Cornwall Council to secure a 99-year lease on the land at a peppercorn rent. In return, the gallery has become responsible for its own maintenance and upkeep costs.
The deal has also involved the demolition and complete replacement of the previously decrepit Meadows housing complex for the elderly, owned by PHA, with 26 flats.
Currently Tate St Ives has 500 square metres of public gallery space, divided into five galleries.
The project aims to provide at least 300 square metres of new gallery space, which will create the capacity for three separate zones for exhibitions and displays. This will enable a year-round programme, which will include a 12-month display of the St Ives Modernists.
There will also be better facilities for handling and lifting artworks, new office and toilet facilities, and a renovated learning zone in the existing building.
The Tate has conducted an extensive consultation process in the town, both with councillors and residents.
Mr Osterfield said: "We have worked hard to ensure the building is sensitive to the environment and have taken on board many local residents' concerns and suggestions, and I feel the town council has recognised this with its approval."
The plans will now go to Cornwall Council's west area planning committee in March.
Tate St Ives said that, subject to planning permission and funding agreements, it will start work on the extension in the autumn, with completion by the end of 2015.