The revamp of the grade one-listed museum, gallery and library in Preston’s Market Square won planning approval yesterday, as the city council awaits the outcome of its £4.5m bid to the National Lottery Fund to support the scheme.
Plans to accentuate the Harris Building’s original Lancaster Road entrance, introduce a new internal lift and staircase and remove mezzanine floors to open out the full original galleries were approved by Preston City Council’s planning committee yesterday.
The consented plans will also see conservation work carried out to the roof and basement, to resolve damp issues that have affected the Victorian building.
The improvements are designed to “return the building to its original splendour and reveal some of the Harris’ original architectural details, which have previously been hidden”, according to the council.
Opened in 1893, the central Preston venue is owned and managed by the city council, which aims to start the £10.2m #HarrisYourPlace project in October, subject to funding approval. Preston submitted a bid in November for £4.5m of National Lottery funding to help it finance the work.
A decision on the National Lottery bid is expected in March and an additional £3.6m of funding is already in place from Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, Arts Council England and other local supporters.
Cllr Peter Kelly, cabinet member for culture at Preston City Council, said: “Planning approval is a major step forward for this project, which is important not only for the Harris Building, but for Preston and Lancashire more broadly, helping to bring more visitors to our city.”
While Preston City Council’s planning committee approved the proposal, the application still requires final sign-off from Oliver Dowden, the UK’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport.