A STATE-OF-THE-ART community hub for heritage and learning will be created in Harborough town centre thanks to a £380,000 loan from the Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity.
The new facility, which will open in 2014, will bring together the previously separate Harborough Museum and Library at the redeveloped Adam and Eve Street headquarters of Harborough District Council, the authority announced today (Tuesday).
Together with funding already made available by the district council and Leicestershire County Council, the loan will create a community facility that brings together the best of the museum and its existing collections with the full range of library services and new facilities for adult learning activity, read a statement issued by the council this afternoon.
The loan will fund improved displays and interpretation at the museum.
Its terms guarantee the museum will remain in the building for at least 21 years.
A spokesman for the charity said: “We have been working closely with Harborough District Council and their agents for several months to see how we can lever additional community benefit from the redevelopment of the council HQ.
“This loan will greatly improve the new building for members of the public, secure the future of the Harborough Museum for years to come and extend the town’s heritage quarter, which comprises the church, the Old Grammar School and the theatre, all of which have previously benefited from significant financial assistance through our charity.
“We look forward to working with the council and local communities to build a fantastic facility.”
District council leader Mike Rook said: “Our development plans have always been shaped by the need to spend as frugally as possible, so this loan opens up exciting opportunities that the council could not have delivered alone.
“Rather than simply freshen up the library and museum we can now build a dedicated community facility that will act as a heritage hub for the district.
“I hope that people from across the district will play a part in shaping the design of this exciting new facility.”
Dave Houseman, the county council’s cabinet member for adults and communities, said: “This is an exciting project which allows us to bring together key county council services in one place.
“The funding and support from the Market Harborough and Bowden’s Charity will allow the development of an innovative and inspiring cultural space within the historic heart of the town centre.
“Officers from the county council are working closely with colleagues from Harborough District Council and the Market Harborough Historical Society to ensure the very best of museum and library services will be offered alongside adult learning courses and other community activities.”
Harborough District Council and Leicestershire County Council will stage a consultation to allow people to shape the new ‘heritage hub’.
The facility will be completed in January 2014, when the rest of the revamped Adam and Eve Street headquarters is re-opened.
The £5.75 million revamp to the Adam and Eve Street HQ is being funded by £1.6 million from Leicestershire County Council, which will be taking office space in the building, and just over £4 million from district council reserves and borrowing.
The council has said it will save £45,000 a year by moving to occupy just one fifth of the building, and that leasing areas of the building for office and retail use will generate an income of £123,000 a year.
The council finalised the appointment of contractor Willmott Dixon to deliver the redevelopment at yesterday’s meeting of the ruling executive committee.
The Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity is the largest of the town charities.
It has an asset base of in excess of £15m and distributes more than £400,000 each year to individuals and organisations in Harborough, Great Bowden and Little Bowden.
For more information visit www.mhbcharity.co.uk or from the charity steward Jim Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org