AN additional £100,000 towards the £4.5 million redevelopment of Skipton Town Hall looks set to be be rubber-stamped by Craven District Council tomorrow (Wednesday).

The council’s decision making Policy Committee last week unanimously agreed to putting in more money to allow the project to be completed - subject to it being approved by the full council - after hearing it had gone around £45,000 over budget.

Speaking at the remotely held meeting, Councillor Simon Myers (Con, Gargrave), lead member for enterprising Craven, said he hoped it would be the last time he would have to ‘grovel’ before councillors for more money.

“What has become apparent during the renovations is not only that the building has not been maintained, but it has not been built properly,” he said, explaining that the foundations needed to be 'shored-up'.

“As far as we can hope, it will be the last time that I have to grovel before you in what is a very important project which I think will be very important in the regeneration of Skipton and Craven.”

The town hall is being transformed into a cultural hub for the district, with a fully upgraded Craven Museum and exhibition gallery, a restored concert hall, dedicated education space and improved facilities.

Construction work is continuing and the team has worked hard to limit the impact of Covid-19, but this has had an effect on the project. Work has continued, with a reduced workforce on site, in line with national guidance. This has increased the time and cost of the project.

The National Heritage Lottery Fund has given a grant of £1.5 million; the council has already put in captial funding of £532,390 and is underwriting the project by £1.6 million, although this will be reduced to £83,000, if the extra amount is agreed by full council.

The meeting heard that before redevelopment, the building cost around £300,000 per year to run and maintain, with little benefit to the wider community. After the redevelopment, it will cost less to run and provide a cultural hub for many more people.

Councillors were told that several applications had been made for alternative grant funding, with some so far being turned down because the building was not old enough, was not rural enough, and was too secular. Officers were now concentrating on getting funding based on the new educational aspect of the redeveloped hall.

Cllr Chris Rose (Lab, Skipton West) said it was a splendid project ad praised the town hall staff for continuing to operate even while the building was closed and during the Covid lockdown.

“It is a brilliant project, and I wholeheartedly support it,” she said.

The council will seek to reclaim any additional costs specifically related to Covid-19 from central government schemes.

While the town hall has been closed for redevelopment, the council’s cultural services team has been conducting outreach, events and opportunities to engage with museum collections across the district.

Before the Covid-19 lockdown, in the year 2019 to 20 the team ran more than 30 events and performances in partnership with village halls and engaged around 1,200 schoolchildren across the district in education outreach projects.

Since lockdown, the team has offered a range of online activities and opportunities to make and participate via their website and social media.