Preston’s grade-I listed Harris Museum and Art Gallery has taken a next step in its multi-million pound future.Advertisement
First opened in 1893 the biggest revamp of the building ever planned has seen Preston City Council lodge a £10m bid for lottery money to ‘re-imagine’ the building including its library.
Plans for the Harris include the ‘opening up’ of the front with a new entrance on the Flag Market which has split opinion in the city and among the architectural lobby.
Being a grade-I listed building the city council would need special permission from Historic England to make any modifications to it.
A total of £18.6million would be spent on the Harris including using ‘state of the art and digital technology’ to ‘become a true learning hub for the 21st century’.
The lottery bid will be the biggest in Preston’s history, previous lottery bids were £7.5m for the National Football Museum and £5m for the Markets canopy.
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The city council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure councillor Peter Kelly said: “Our vision for the Harris is hugely ambitious and we are delighted to have submitted our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We’re talking about a bid that’s worth £10m to the Harris and at this level competition from right across the UK will be fierce.
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“Yet we are confident, optimistic and positive. We’ve put together an incredible bid that really goes to the heart of what the Harris is all about. A cultural, historic, educational and social icon that is a true local and national treasure. Over the next four months, we will do all we can to impress on the people at the Heritage Lottery Fund, the massive benefits of investing in the Harris for the benefit of Preston, Lancashire and the North West as a whole.”
A poll in which nearly 1,000 Blog Preston readers voted showed 48 per cent thought the Harris should be left alone, with 33 per cent supporting the plans and there’s 17 per cent of you unsure until further details are released.
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The building is jointly operated with Lancashire County Council and has more than 330,000 visitors each year.
Cabinet member for cultural services at the county council Marcus Johnstone said: “The Harris is at a pivotal moment and this bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Harris, for the city of Preston and for Lancashire.
“We have to “seize the day” and ensure the fantastic passion and great love people have for the Harris carries forward and truly inspires the Heritage Lottery Fund. It’s incredibly exciting to think how £10m of lottery funding could transform the Harris and so we have to be focused and put in every effort to try and make our bid a success.”
Read more: Free public WiFi to be offered on the Flag Market and the Harris
Preston will be competing against many other towns and cities for the Heritage Lottery funding.
The city council says the remaining £8m in funding would come from ‘both local and other national funding sources’.
A decision is due from the Heritage Lottery Fund in April about whether the Harris plans can move to the next stage.
If successful a full and detailed plan for how the Harris would develop would be due in summer 2019.
What do you think of the lottery bid for the Harris? Let us know in the comments below