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Green light for 78 Derngate’s major extension after council agrees to provide £400,000 in government funding

A major extension of 78 Derngate can go ahead after the council agreed to provide £400,000 in government funding for the Charles Rennie Mackintosh museum in Northampton.

West Northamptonshire Council’s cabinet was advised to support the grant at a meeting last night (Tuesday, September 14), as part of the £24.9 million handed to the town through the Towns Fund

As well as expanding the museum, the money will also be used to convert part of the site to create a new ‘learning garden’, a new tearoom and improved disabled access.

Deputy leader Adam Brown said: “With my culture and tourism hat on, I’m fully in support of this, we need to be investing in the highlights of our heritage across West Northamptonshire and I look forward to visiting once it is complete.”

78 Derngate has already raised £195,000 for the project and received £200,000 from the old Northampton Borough Council, £80,000 from charitable trusts and £43,000 from Lloyds Bank.

The scheme was included as part of the business case for the money Northampton received from the government’s Towns Fund in March after 18 months of development.

If 78 Derngate does not receive the £400,000, then it would not only ruin the extension but also jeopardise the rest of the government cash the town has been allocated, according to the council report.

Also included in the Town Investment Plan (TIP) is the redevelopment of the old Marks and Spencer and BHS units in Abington Street, the long-awaited Four Waterside scheme and more.

A report for the meeting said the funding will support an ‘iconic historic visitor attraction’ in Northampton, increase footfall in the town and encourage economic growth.

It adds: “The extension will allow a greater occupancy of the building following Covid-19, improving the sustainability of the museum, while also allowing it to diversify the activities that are offered from the site and allow for an expansion of the retail and restaurant and space for corporate hire.

“This will generate increased income and deliver outputs including increased commercial floorspace, the creation of new direct jobs, additional volunteer roles in the community and assist businesses, as well as provide a learning garden for further educational purposes, widen the visitor demographic and provide improved independent disabled access to the visitor centre.”