EU exit may hit Â£5m bid for grant
Plans for the redevelopment of Berwick Barracks into a heritage hub may be put at risk by the decision to leave the European Union.
An initial bid for £5m of European funding through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) Regional Growth Fund has been submitted.
Partners say the outcome of the bid could be crucial to the success of the £15m Barracks Reawakening Project.
“We may find that that they are now ineligible,” warned Cllr Eric Goodyer of Berwick Town Council. “However, if it is successful we would be well on the way to having the most fantastic heritage hub.”
The main source of
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funding is expected to be either the Coastal Communities Fund or the Heritage Lottery Fund, or a combination.
To support the project, an Expression of Interest has been submitted via Northumberland County Council to the NELEP Regional Growth Fund for a potential contribution of £5 million.
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“We are one of eight bids to go through from Northumberland County Council and that is an achievement in itself,” said Cllr Goodyer. “There are no guarantees - there will be bids from all over the north east for this funding.”
The proposed project would involve bringing the Berwick Record Office and Archive onto the site and integrating and upgrading the three museums and two art galleries currently based in the barracks.
New facilities would include a café, an enlarged shop and education facilities. There could also be studio and retail space for artists and artisans, new spaces for community use, and visitor accommodation for holiday lets.
The current museum collections – Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, the regimental museum of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, and English Heritage’s own display, would be reinterpreted and expanded to tell the dramatic and often bloody story of North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.
There would be improved display space for the internationally recognised Gymnasium Gallery and room for the town’s Art Gallery to bring more of its precious Burrell Collection out of storage and onto public display.
As well as the permanent displays, there would be a new emphasis on arts events, living history re-enactments, festivals and other activities that bring life and animation to the Barracks square.
It is envisaged the development, if successful, would attract around 60,000 visitors per year.