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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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£2m heritage centre at Carlisle Cathedral delayed

A visionary plan to create a world class heritage learning centre in the grounds of Carlisle Cathedral will be delayed by 18 months.

The centre will be based in the 14th century Fratry building but the £2m project has failed to win approval from the body that oversees work on English cathedrals.

Its officials have expressed concern about proposals for access to the building and a new lavatory block.

But leading lights in the project insist that they are determined to get the design right and they now aim to hire a new architectural team.

The Dean of Carlisle, the Very Reverend Mark Boyling, said those who have supported the project should be aware a solution will be found and the project will go ahead – though later than planned.

He said: “Our strategy is to get a new building design which will win approval.

“It will of course have to be functional but it will have to stand alongside those great buildings of which we are stewards, so we have to make sure that anything we introduce on a permanent basis is worthy of the cathedral site.”

The approval-giving body involved which has objected is the Cathedrals’ Fabric Commission for England.

The Dean added: “This is, of course, very disappointing and means work on site will be delayed.

“We have always known that we are working on one of the most sensitive sites in the city and we have tried to listen carefully to the advice we have received along the way from each of the bodies who have to approve such new building work.

“We know we have a project that will serve the city, the county and its visitors well and have been tremendously encouraged by the wide support the project has attracted.

“We can move promptly because much of the other preparatory work that is required has been completed successfully. Both our heritage learning proposals and our Business Plan have been very well received.

“It is just the architectural design that we will need to revisit.”

A new application to the Heritage Lottery Fund is now being prepared and should be ready for submission by the summer.

Work on site which had been scheduled to start in autumn 2014 will now begin in 2016.

The project has received national support since a fundraising campaign was launched two years ago.

So far nearly £900,000 has been raised.

John Nixon, chairman of the Carlisle Cathedral Development Trust, said: “We are tremendously grateful for the generous support of so many people locally and of grant making trusts across the country.

“Our supporters can be sure that everything that has been donated will still be used to refurbish and equip this world­class building.

“The Cathedral Development Trust has agreed to cover any additional costs we have to meet in the next few months.”

All those who have donated to the project will be contacted individually to alert them to the delay.

The Fratry project aims to provide a unique and inspiring educational hub and multi-media learning resource.

The cathedral set a fundraising target of £1m to provide the match funding needed to set alongside the grant of £1.4m being asked of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project will create public access to the cathedral’s collections.

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