HITCHIN TOWN HALL - COMMUNITY BID
£850,000 FUNDING BID GIVEN GREEN LIGHT.
Hitchin Initiative's bid for £850,000 from The Community Builders' Fund has been given the green light. The Community Builders Funding will be used along with a £3.5million investment from North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) to create a new North Herts Museum and a revitalised community space for weddings, festivals and community events, along with smaller meeting rooms, all available to hire.
There will also be a café and catering facilities on site, while the extended gym area will be converted into a new North Herts museum. The building will be improved throughout with updated toilets and access to all floors via a lift to significantly improve the visitor experience and preserve the fabric of the iconic building.
The formal documentation, with anticipated conditions, will be received next week, however given the very tight timescales surrounding the project, the credit committee were keen to inform the Initiative of the good news at the earliest opportunity.
The bringing together of Hitchin and Letchworth museums, on the Hitchin Town Hall site, is estimated to deliver annual savings of £160,000 a year to NHDC in running costs, as well as providing wide-scale benefits to the community.
Brent Smith, Chairman of Hitchin Initiative said "This has been a marvellous team effort involving all of Hitchin’s community groups, but I want to pay special tribute to Morag Norgan for leading our negotiating team, David Leal-Bennett for his sterling work in producing our financial model and, of course, to our Town Centre Manager, Keith Hoskins, for seeing us through this long process".
A delighted Keith Hoskins said "This is a major investment in the social fabric of Hitchin and a tribute to the true community partnership that is embodied in Hitchin Initiative. The Initiative is grateful to Councillors and Officers for their continued support, guidance and commitment to the project. The retention of a museum in Hitchin and the refurbishment of our major civic venue is excellent news for the community and for the economy of the town. This successful bid effectively moves the project a major step forward from a community vision to a deliverable reality. The hard work of satisfying Community Builders' anticipated conditions starts in earnest today along with the preparation work for launching a Community Bond Issue later in the year."
Cllr Tricia Cowley, NHDC’s portfolio holder for community engagement and rural affairs, said: “This is fantastic news, not only for Hitchin but for the whole district. North Hertfordshire can now look forward to a new, modern museum while the community retains a superb venue for a wide range of activities. At the same time, the Council will reduce ongoing running costs for local taxpayers, an especially important factor given the current financial climate."
“Obviously there is a long way to go, but this was a crucial step forward for the project as a whole. I want to thank Hitchin Initiative and the other community groups we are working alongside for their efforts in putting the bid together. Now we can move on to the next phase, hopefully obtaining planning permission and listed building consent by the end of March 2011.”