Funding options are to be explored to support Huntingdon Town Council’s ambition to purchase an historic building in the town’s Market Square.
Councillors were updated on progress being made in the authority’s efforts to buy Grade II-listed Wyekham House at a meeting held on November 8 in the town hall.
The town council took ownership of the nearby Cromwell Museum earlier this year and, together with the town hall itself, the authority hopes Wykeham House, which dates back to the 18th century, could be used to promote the town’s heritage.
According to a report put before councillors, the building could cost about £470,000 and work is being carried to see if the council can secure funding.
The report noted: “The town clerk and estates manager had viewed the property to evaluate its condition and to see how flexible the building’s accommodation suited town council future plans.
“A meeting was held on site with a structural engineer and a Huntingdonshire District Council conservation officer to discuss possible uses. This was a very favourable meeting with full support given by the conservation officer who was very keen to be involved, if we purchased and refurbished the building.
“A future vision might be turning Wykeham House into a museum/heritage/tourist centre. It could be a central hub promoting links between Huntingdon and the Cromwell Museum, the Norris Museum, St Neots Museum, and Ramsey Rural Museum. It is felt that the rich and varied history of the county of Huntingdonshire has long been under-represented and this initiative would offer a place to help fill the gap.”
The report also noted that the town council could now apply for Community Infrastructure Levy funding (gained from housing developers) to help support the purchase.
The authority will have to “provide a full outline cost for purchase and refurbishment of the building” to the district council as part of its bid for funding. An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund will also to be considered.
Councillor Tom Sanderson said: “[Wykeham House] is in quite a prominent position in the Market Square and we would hope to look at links between it and the Cromwell Museum. We need to do some surveys first, though, to see what needs doing.”
Wykeham House was most recently used as offices but has been vacant for more than a year, despite extensive marketing.