The redevelopment of the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library in Preston is expected to receive a welcome boost next week as councillors look set to approve a further contribution of £375,000 due to rising costs.
The Re-Imagining the Harris project aims to effectively utilise the unique opportunities provided by iconic Grade 1 listed building and civic focal point for the city, housing a library, museum, and art gallery, with an excellent range of collections, and to create an animated cultural and community hub for the people of Preston and Lancashire, with a diversified range of income streams.
The building is owned by Preston City Council, which runs the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, while the county council leases 40% of the building to house the largest library in its library service.
In June 2022, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet agreed to release the remaining £750,000 of the £1m funding previously agreed in 2018, with £250,000 having been paid towards the support of a successful bid to the National Heritage Lottery Fund in 2017.
However, recent price increases within the construction sector and the rising cost of inflation has had a dramatic impact on the costs for the project.
Subsequently, additional funding of £1.26m has been agreed by Preston City Council and £250,000 of additional funding has been secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
At its meeting on Thursday 1 December, cabinet will be asked to approve additional funding of £375,000 as Lancashire County Council’s contribution to the funding gap. Local Trusts and Foundations associated with the project are also being approached to provide additional funding.
County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services at Lancashire County Council, said: “We remain committed to the redevelopment of the Harris, demonstrated by the significant contributions we’ve made towards the project.
“This collaborative project will bring the Harris up to modern standards and preserve its heritage, ensuring that this iconic landmark remains the civic focal point for Preston.
“Unfortunately, circumstances outside of our control have meant that further funds are needed to complete this exciting project as was intended.
“That is why I will be asking cabinet colleagues to contribute a further £375,000 to help see these ambitious plans come to fruition.”
Cllr Peter Kelly, Cabinet Member for Culture and Arts at Preston City Council said: “The multi-million-pound programme to restore and reimagine The Harris is central to the extensive regeneration that is currently taking place in Preston City Centre.
“We are all committed to conserving this much-loved heritage building for all to enjoy, and to continue to offer a rich programme of arts and culture for the residents of Preston and for visitors alike.
“The Harris remains the vibrant heart of our community where people want to spend their time and we are confident that despite the rising construction costs and inflation, we remain on track for the delivery of this impactful regeneration scheme in 2024.”