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Exciting plans to improve and deliver an enhanced visitor offer for St Mary’s Guildhall are to be discussed at a Council Cabinet Member meeting next week.
The Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration is being asked to approve the submission of a Round Two application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund which, if approved, would fund a much-needed programme of improvement and enhancement of the 14th Century Guildhall.
Thanks to The National Lottery players, £78,000 has already been secured to develop the application. Round Two grant awards are decided at a competitive level, but if successful, a further £1.76m will be available from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Council is bringing forward this project with the specific aim of making the Guildhall – historically the former Headquarters of the Council – a sustainable business while at the same time enhancing its history and making it a visitor proposition that will be attractive to tourists during the city’s year as UK City of Culture.
The £5.6m capital programme works will deliver key improvements to the Guildhall enabling it to deliver a first-class destination and facility for visitors, businesses and the local community alike.
Plans to restore and conserve the medieval kitchen, restoration of the original approach to the Great Hall, improving visitor access, enhancing the interpretation of the historic tapestry and the creation of a public viewing gallery are all direct benefits should approval be given to the investment programme.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, Coventry City Council, said:
“We know these recommended improvements are much needed to enable a facility as key as St Mary’s Guildhall to deliver a first-class offer to visitors, businesses and the local community.
“The Guildhall is a significant building in the city’s history and this project is all about protecting the city’s heritage for local people. It is a jewel in the city’s crown and by delivering these vital improvements we will be able to do this beautiful and historic building justice.
“I’m also very keen to ensure the venue offers a sustained programme for the local community, schools and businesses to help deliver the long-term viability of the Guildhall and safeguard it for generations to come and enjoy.”
In addition, there will be improved catering facilities which will enhance the events, conferencing and wedding offer alongside a much-needed, high-quality visitor offer for schools and the education sector.
With full listed building consent submitted, the recommended capital refurbishment plans will support St. Mary’s Guildhall to fulfil its role as a major heritage site and contribute fully to the city’s cultural offer.
Approval of the recommended programme of improvements and enhancements will also see plans to develop increased opportunities for community learning, volunteers and training.
To enable the necessary works and associated refurbishment of St. Mary’s Guildhall to be carried out, arrangements would be made for the temporary closure of the building.
In February 2020, Cabinet and Council approved up to £3 million capital support for St. Mary’s Guildhall.
The heritage elements of the project are planned to be enhanced by the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players.
The recommendation for Cabinet consideration is for plans to submit the Round Two application to the National Heritage Lottery Fund in August 2020 to progress the scheme.
It is expected that re-opening of the Guildhall will be phased, starting in March 2021 with a full opening scheduled for Summer 2021.