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Designs revealed for listed Preston Harris

Preston City Council and Buttress Architects have released concept designs for the £10m overhaul of the Harris Museum on Market Square.

In January, the architecture practice won a £450,000 contract to work with The Harris museum in Preston on its plans for a £10.7m Heritage Lottery-funded refurbishment.

Plans have been under way to refurbish the listed Harris for several years. Preston City Council established its ‘Re-imagining the Harris’ project in 2015 with a masterplan drawn up in 2016, which was expected to cost £18.6m. A bid was put forward to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £10m, but was turned down.

The council then made a second attempt for Heritage Lottery funding in 2018, asking for £4.5m. Development funding of £180,900 was awarded, which is being used to fund the creation of Buttress’ designs.

The listed building in the centre of Preston is used as a museum and art gallery, with Lancashire County Council leasing 40% of the building to house a library. Part of the re-imagining project details the ambition to “blend” the uses currently existing within the museum, according to Preston City Council.

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The total bid of £4.7m will support the £10.7m project, which is backed by £3.6m from Preston and Lancashire councils, the Preston, South Ribble & Lancashire City Deal, Arts Council England and local supporters.

The consultation on ‘re-imagining The Harris’ runs from Tuesday 23 June to Friday 3 July.

Cllr Peter Kelly, cabinet member for leisure and culture at Preston City Council, said: “For many local people the Harris represents Preston, a proud landmark on the cityscape. However it has the potential to be far more than an iconic building. More than a century old, the grade one-listed Harris is at a significant point in its history, part-way through a journey of innovation and change in the role it plays in Preston, in Lancashire and beyond.

“The development aims to create welcoming thoroughfares through the building by utilising existing entrance ways that are currently disused. Visitors will be able to engage with the collections in a new way, not only in traditional galleries but also woven into other public areas such as cafes and activity areas.

“The Harris’ ambition is to be a focal point for creativity and making, information and learning in spaces that celebrate heritage and promote wellbeing. We hope the people of Preston can engage with these concept images and help us in the next stage of this exciting project.”

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