COUNCILLORS say a failed bid for £1.9m in Heritage Lottery Fund money will not jeopardise a multi-million pound revamp of Abingdon Guildhall, but will see it scaled down.
Abingdon Town Council said it did not know why the Heritage Lottery Fund turned down its application for funding towards the £4.4m scheme.
Council leader Sandy Lovatt said it would definitely still go ahead, probably without an overhaul of the main hall and stage. The plans included a renovation of Abbey Hall with new theatre seating for 150 to 200 people, a 110-seat cinema, a new cafe-bar with an outdoor terrace, and a new layout for the building, with easier open plan, disabled access.
He said: “This is not as big a problem as people might think, we could get the same functionality for about £3.4m.”
The council has £1m reserved for the project and is now looking at other grant bodies and commercial investors to raise the rest.
Mr Lovatt said he did not think the estimated 100,000 extra visitors the new hall was to attract – generating some £700,000 a year – would be much affected.
The council spends £150,000 a year running the hall, and the revamp was designed to cover that cost, at least in part.
As well as other funding sources, it will also examine various options for reducing the scheme’s cost to about £2.5m while retaining its “core important features” including the cinema.