The Harris Preston
Buttress Architects designed the revamp

Preston bids for Harris backing 

Dan Whelan

The city council, alongside Lancashire County Council, has requested £4.5m of National Lottery funding to deliver improvements to the grade one-listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library in Market Square. 

If approved, the National Lottery bid will be the final piece of funding needed for the £10m #HarrisYourPlace scheme, aimed at preserving the building and creating a cultural attraction and community hub, attracting an additional 100,000 visitors a year, Preston City Council said. 

Plans for the project were lodged last month and include accentuating the original Lancaster Road entrance, introducing a new internal lift and staircase, and removing mezzanines to open out the full original galleries.  

Proposals also include conservation works to the roof and basement to address damp issues that have affected the building. Under the plans, “unsympathetic interventions” will be removed, according to the council. 

The proposals have been produced by Manchester-based Buttress Architects, and concept design plans by Ralph Appelbaum Associates. Focus Consultants is on board as project manager.    

Opened in 1893, the central Preston venue is owned and managed by the city council. 

The National Lottery Heritage Fund will now consider the plans and supporting evidence before a decision is made at end of March 2021.  

The scheme has already received £3.6m from other sources, including the city council, Lancashire County Council, the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, Arts Council England, and local supporters.  

Efforts to raise further funding are ongoing. 

Cllr Peter Kelly, cabinet member for leisure and culture at Preston City Council, said: “The Harris is at the heart of Preston, geographically and figuratively, which is why this is a cornerstone project for our city. 

“If approved, the works will be transformational for Preston; not only through conserving this precious building and creating a cultural attraction fit for the future, but also by unlocking potential in the Harris Quarter and the city as a whole.”    

The project is targeted to start on site next spring, subject to approval of the funding bid and planning application.

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