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Wycombe Museum to 'remain in Priory Avenue'
WYCOMBE Museum is expected to remain based in Priory Avenue amid uncertainty over the long-term future of a council’s headquarters.
The museum was due to relocate in to a new purpose-built area of Wycombe District Council’s Queen Victoria Road offices in Wycombe, to be run by the Wycombe Heritage and Arts Trust.
But the relocation was shelved by WDC’s Cabinet last month after members decided to withdraw a Heritage Lottery Fund application.
A council paper states members reviewed the short and long term options for its Queen Victoria Road HQ but, while WDC has a short term future in the base, there is “uncertainty about the long term retention of the Queen Victoria Road complex in part or as a whole.”
It continues: “Given the council would need to commit to either retain the museum on site for 25 years or to refund a pro rata part of any Heritage Lottery Fund award, it decided to close the relocation project.”
But in a statement to the Free Press, the council said there is “no current suggestion it will be leaving” its town centre base.
It added: “Given the economic climate and the reduction in our staff numbers, we are just thinking about how we can be flexible and make the best use of our office space at Queen Victoria Road.
“We are currently marketing one of our buildings, because we think there is an opportunity for us to reduce how much office space we use.”
Cabinet meets on Monday night to decide the way forward for the museum, with a proposed recommendation of keeping it based at the historic Castle Hill House – which would receive a £257,000 upgrade.
The refurbishment could include the instillation of a lift, increased parking and a change in the layout of the Grade II listed building, subject to planning permission and consent from English Heritage.
WDC also proposes to continue with the transfer of the museum to the trust, which will take over the day-to-day running of the facility in 2015.
This would save the authority money and also enable the trust to apply for grant funding streams not available to a council-owned museum.