Quest for £1m study centre

PUBLISHED: 13:55 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 10:14 31 May 2010

Architect David Demery’s drawing of the Quest Centre

Architect David Demery's drawing of the Quest Centre

AN APPLICATION for a grant of almost £1million is being prepared to help build Saffron Walden Museum s Heritage Quest Centre. The custom-built centre will house many of the museum s exhibits in a specially constructed building on Thaxted Road. The museum

AN APPLICATION for a grant of almost £1million is being prepared to help build Saffron Walden Museum's Heritage Quest Centre.

The custom-built centre will house many of the museum's exhibits in a specially constructed building on Thaxted Road.

The museum along with Uttlesford District Council are intending to submit an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in June for £930,000 of funding to put towards the estimated total cost of £1.28million.

Museum curator Carolyn Wingfield said: "The building work is likely to cost about £850,000 and £100,000 more is likely to be needed to purchase special mobile racking for storing the collections.

"Some money will also be needed to hire two members of staff for three years, and extra staff to help with digitising the collections, and computer equipment."

Planning permission for the two-storey resource centre, which has a footprint of 300 square metres, was granted in December 2005.

The centre, which will have disabled access, won't be a second museum, but a facility enabling researchers and students to access the reserve collections.

People interested in viewing the centre's items will be able to do so by making an appointment.

UDC is considering contributing £150,000 towards the project over the next three years.

Ms Wingfield said: "The HLF could fund up to 75 per cent of the cost, although maximum grants are not always awarded.

"Likelihood of success increases with the amount of matched funding and evidence provided of support for the project."

The current figure for funds raised stands at £93,700, which has come from sources including BAA Stansted. At least a further £75,000 is hoped to come from two substantial landfill tax grants.

Ms Wingfield said there had been wide-spread support for the project. "It is able to demonstrate wide-ranging support through donations, grants and letters received from Uttlesford, Essex and further afield," she said.

It is predicted that the HLF will take a minimum of six months to come to a decision on the grant.

If the application is successful, the construction of the state-of-the-art facility should begin in early 2008, with the opening of the centre hoped to take place in 2009.

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