Plans for a £15m redevelopment of Berwick Barracks have taken a small but significant step in the right direction.
Consultants have already said the idea of turning the barracks into a heritage hub telling the story of Berwick and the eastern Borders is feasible and would be capable of attracting upwards of 60,000 visitors a year.
Project partners led by the Berwick Archive and Museum Action Group, are now trying to raise £90,000 to fund a major programme of work to prepare the plans and evidence required by a range of major funders in the public and private sectors.
Northumberland County Council has committed £15,000, Berwick Freemen will provide up to £10,000 and Berwick Town Council agreed to give £25,000 at its meeting on Monday night.
Further contributions are being sought from project partners and a number of trusts and foundations.
Action group member Joe Lang said: “This is the single best opportunity we have to drive economic growth in Berwick.
“If we want to make it happen, we need to do it now. This £90,000 we need to raise is not optional. If we don’t raise it, the Barracks project isn’t going to happen.”
New facilities would include a café, an enlarged shop, education facilities, studio and retail space for artists, new spaces for community use and holiday let accommodation.
The current museum collections – Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, the regimental museum of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and English Heritage’s own display – would be reinterpreted and expanded to tell the story of north Northumberland and the Borders.
There would also be an emphasis on arts events, living history re-enactments and festivals bringing life to the Barracks square.