Ambitious plans for a Grade I-listed museum, art gallery and library redevelopment scheme – project managed by Focus Consultants – have received initial National Lottery support.

Re-Imagining the Harris project at the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library in Preston, Lancashire, has been awarded development funding of £180,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This will help Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council to progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant in 2020.

Focus Consultants, which has its headquarters at Nottingham, and branches in London, Leicester, Newark and Boston, has worked on developments at key UK museums, and has successfully supported many of them with bid and grant funding applications.

Focus partner Steven Fletcher said: “It’s great to hear that the Re-Imagining the Harris project has been successful in its bid for initial National Lottery support.

“Focus Consultants is proud to have been part of the team that put together the bid for the redevelopment scheme for this building, which is a proud landmark that has been at the centre of Preston’s cultural and social life for 125 years.

“The redevelopment proposals seek to establish the Harris as the UK’s first blended museum, art gallery and library. The successful initial bid means this dream is a step closer.”

The project aims to create thoroughfares through the building, encouraging both day and evening footfall 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 cafés and activity areas. The Harris’ ambition is to be a focal point for creativity and making, digital technology, learning and reading.

The successful bid was created by a team of Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council staff working with project managers Focus Consultants, architects Purcell, interpretive designers Leach Studio, library design specialists The Design Concept, mechanical engineers Max Fordham, structural engineers Curtins, and project advisors L&R Consulting and Sara Hilton Associates.

If the next bid stage is successful, it will enable the full realisation of the Harris project. The total bid of £4.7million will support a £10.7million project, which is backed by £3.6million of funding in place from both councils, the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, Arts Council England and local supporters.

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