Council to bid for more money for Ipswich Museum revamp

New plans for Ipswich Museum Picture: Ipswich Borough Council

Artist's impressions show the plans for Ipswich Museum - Credit: Ipswich Borough Council

A council has agreed to bid for more money to make an £8million revamp of Ipswich Museum a reality.

However, Ipswich Borough Council will be required to stump up an additional £500,000 - as costs have increased.

The local authority's executive unanimously agreed at its meeting last week that the second round bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) should be submitted.

The £8million overhaul features a bid for £4.3m in HLF cash.

However, a report prepared for the council revealed costs had increased by just under £582,000 since work first began in 2018.

Carole Jones, Labour portfolio holder for museums, acknowledged that could not be funded from HLF money,

It will now be part of the borough council’s capital funding towards the scheme, now at £3.5m.

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The revamp, which secured planning permission earlier this summer, includes a new cafe and outdoor seating terrace.

It would also mean converting the basement for toilets and lockers, repairs to boundary walls, new stairs and plant room, wheelchair accessibility ramps, relocated lift and improved gallery space.

In addition, it will allow for a new adventure and discovery exhibition and digital learning space.

Ms Jones said: “They [HLF] awarded us a development grant at the end of 2018 and the past 18 months we have had a team building this second round application.”

On the funding increase, she said: “It’s a big step to accept this but I think it’s a real investment in the building itself that will make for a much better visitor experience”.

Other funding sources include a £40,000 Friends of Ipswich Museum contribution and a £450,000 fundraising target.

It is hoped an appeal over how Ipswich Museum properties are valued for business rates purposes will generate a £400,000 business rates rebate.

Fundraising targets must be met by April 2024, when the work is expected to be completed.

A development grant of £481,000 was awarded in December 2018 by the HLF to come up with detailed plans, and followed unsuccessful bids for a museum revamp project in 2013 and 2015.

The council hopes the accessibility, environmental and facilities benefits would help secure the future funding.

Ian Fisher, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said: “The museum is a really good asset for the town and it’s good to see we are looking to modernise it.”