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Green light for Weald & Downland Museum Gateway Project

PUBLISHED: 11:39 19 May 2015 | UPDATED: 11:39 19 May 2015

Archant

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum has been granted consent by the South Downs National Park Authority planning committee for its Gateway Project.

The Gateway Project is the most ambitious project in the Museum’s history and intends to be more than just a gateway in to the Museum. It will provide news gateways to learning, participation and activities, in addition to being a gateway to the South Downs National Park.

The main priority of the project is to maintain the Museum’s future viability and the project will transform the way that visitors experience the Museum from the moment they enter the grounds. The project buildings comprise two clusters of buildings by the Museum’s millpond, providing an enticing vista as people arrive, with a welcoming central courtyard and a layout designed to meet the needs of the Museum’s diverse range of visitors. The southern cluster will include a new ticketing and retail facility, leading through to a series of interpretation galleries. These aim to enhance visitors’ understanding of the Museum and its collection, and the landscape from which its buildings originated. The northern cluster of buildings will house new catering facilities – with views across the millpond and external waterside decking – and a community and learning space, for use as a classroom and for meetings. In addition, the re-configured car park and a new driveway will make much better use of the existing area – including disabled access and coach parking – and create a safer environment for pedestrians through the introduction of a dedicated footpath leading to the new facilities. The project also aims to encourage the use of more sustainable modes of travel by its visitors, including walking, cycling and public transport.

Two of the Museum’s historic buildings – the Medieval house from Sole Street and the wagon shed from Pallingham Quay, which form the current catering facility – will be dismantled, moved to new sites within the Museum and interpreted for visitors. This work will provide opportunities for trainees and volunteers to be directly involved with conservation work, sharing and developing invaluable heritage skills.

Commenting on the planning consent, Museum Director Richard Pailthorpe said: “We are delighted to have received this exciting news. The Gateway Project represents the most important development in terms of the Museum’s long-term sustainability since its foundation. We now look forward to these plans becoming a reality and creating a better museum for everyone.”

The project will cost £5 million, of which the Heritage Lottery fund will be contributing £4 million. The Museum is in the process of raising the remainder through an active and ongoing fundraising campaign. It is anticipated that the project will be completed and open to visitors during 2017.

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