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Guildhall’s revamp on hold as council seeks more funds
The £3.5m redevelopment plans of Abingdon’s historic Guildhall have been hit by delays.
A planning application to build a new cinema extension and to overhaul the current building was due to be submitted last month.
But councillors have put the scheme on standby for about two months while they try to secure more funding for the project.
The delays could mean building may start towards the end of 2014 rather than early next year as originally planned.
Iain Littlejohn, chairman of Abingdon Town Council’s Guildhall committee, said members were talking to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
He said: “We realised we needed to bring in some external funding and secure some grants for that.
“They could give us a serious amount of money if they like what we are doing and the project fits their criteria.
“We want to secure £1m of external funding, but we do not expect to find all that in one place.
“The HLF do sometimes give huge amounts of money, but they haven’t been down to visit the site yet.”
Mr Littlejohn said Abingdon Town Council did not want to submit the application in case the HLF wanted to alter the plans in some way.
Representatives from HLF are due to visit the Guildhall this month.
If they do not ask for big changes to the plans, the application will be submitted next month.
Mr Littlejohn said it could take about a year for the HLF to decide whether to give the project a grant, but the application would not be delayed that long.
Leader of Abingdon Town Council Sandy Lovatt said: “The project has turned out to be bigger than we thought, but the public are very interested in it.
“Things are moving fast but the Heritage Lottery Fund grant we are applying for – the Heritage Enterprise fund – is a new fund which could secure us up to £2m, so we are working towards that.”
The project aims to see the 15th century building and its 1966 extension transformed into a social and cultural hub.
The plans include a 100-seat cinema, a renovation of Abbey Hall with new theatre seating for 150 to 200 people, a new cafe-bar with an outdoor terrace, and a new layout for the building, with easier open plan access.