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Re-imagining the Harris project update

Harris front view exterior

Harris front view exterior

9 December 2021

Today at full council, following a thorough procurement process, Preston City Council have appointed Conlon Construction Ltd as the Re-imagining the Harris Project preferred construction partner.

This is a significant milestone towards the delivery of the Harris Your Place project, which arms to create a cultural, civic and community hub at Preston and Lancashire's premier art gallery, museum and library.

The council will now enter into a Pre-Construction Services Agreement with Conlon, which enables further detailed discussions about the project plans before presenting a further council report in April 2022.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts and Night time Economy at Preston City Council, said:

"The ambitious plans and vision we've had for the re-imagining the Harris project are now coming to fruition as we take this huge step forward, with local Preston firm Conlon Construction as the preferred construction partner.

"We can't wait to progress this project, which will deliver an incredible revitalised space for residents and visitors to Preston to explore arts, culture and fantastic events in the years to come.

"Don't forget, while this work takes place The Harris library and IT services are still open at their 'Home from Home' in the Guild Hall."

Michael Conlon, chairman of Conlon Construction, said:

"The Harris is a beacon for the arts and culture in Lancashire, and we're delighted to be the preferred project partner in bringing this vision to reality.

"As a local business, proud of our Preston roots, we have worked previously at the Grade I listed Harris having constructed the Discover Preston Gallery just ahead of the 2012 Guild celebrations. Our appointment to this project is a key milestone as we celebrate our 60th anniversary this year and reflect upon decades of successfully contributing to the built environment of the city and the county."

More information

  • Preston City Council will now work closely with Conlon Construction Ltd to agree a programme plan for the project in early 2022.
  • A further Council report will be presented in April 2022 to seek approval to proceed with a contract for the Main Contractor into the delivery phase.
  • The project will support the delivery of the City Investment Plan and is included as a Towns Fund project subject to a successful business case.
  • The Harris re-imagining project arms to create a cultural, civic and community hub at Preston and Lancashire's premier art gallery, museum and library.
  • Preston City Council actively applies and prioritises the principles of Community Wealth Building wherever applicable and appropriate. Community Wealth Building is an approach which aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone. 

About the Harris

Based in Preston, Lancashire, the Harris is one of the leading museums, galleries and libraries in the region. Host to art collections of national significance, exciting activities and events for all ages and an award-winning contemporary art programmed, the Harris welcomed over 380,000 visitors in 2018/2019.  The Harris consists of an art gallery, museum, library and café.

Harris Your Place

In March 2021 the Harris was granted £4.5m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund - the critical final piece of funding needed to deliver an ambitious £10.02m reimagining of the iconic Grade I listed building.

Called Harris Your Place, the capital scheme has also been made possible thanks to a further £3.6m from Preston City Council; Lancashire County Council; the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal; Arts Council England, the Friends of the Harris and public donations.  Other key supporters include the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, the Harris Trust and the Harris Charity.

Harris Your Place will make the Harris the UK's first blended museum, art gallery and library and make the building more accessible to welcome an additional 100,000 visitors per year with a community-led programme of exhibitions, activities and events.  

Due to commence in autumn 2021, works will return the building to its original splendour and reveal some of the Harris' original architectural details, which have previously been hidden.

Based in Preston, Lancashire, the Harris is one of the leading museums, galleries and libraries in the region. Host to art collections of national significance, exciting activities and events for all ages and an award-winning contemporary art programme, the Harris welcomed over 360,000 visitors in 2019.  

About National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK's heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. 

Harris Quarter Investment Programme

The Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme is a bold and transformational development programme in Preston's Harris Quarter that will be delivered between 2021 and 2026.

It has been kickstarted by a £20.9 million Town Deal which Preston secured in March 2021 as part of the government's £3.6 billion Towns Fund, established to help level up towns and cities around the country.

The Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme is focussed on a number of regeneration projects across culture, leisure, residential, infrastructure, community and education, and is part of the Preston City Investment Plan (CIP).

Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme projects

  • Preston Pop Ups: Bringing together new temporary event space, artworks and improvements to public realm infrastructure, aimed at boosting visitor activity in the Harris Quarter.
  • CEIAG Hub: The creation of a new Careers and Employment, Information, Advice and Guidance Hub in the Harris Quarter.
  • Animate Cinema and Leisure Scheme: The delivery of a new cinema and bowling attraction with food and drink venues, a car park and public square next to Preston Markets.
  • Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets: Investment to support the redevelopment of publicly-owned buildings in the Harris Quarter to support new cultural and community uses.
  • Illuminate and Integrate: A project to deliver improved pedestrian and cycleway infrastructure, street lighting and other public realm improvements within the Harris Quarter.
  • Preston Youth Zone: The development of Preston Youth Zone as a state-of-the-art facility for young people in Preston aged eight to 19.
  • #HarrisYourPlace: The refurbishment of the Grade I listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library, enhancing and protecting the building for generations to come.

The Preston Towns Fund bid was led by the Preston Towns Fund Board, a sub-committee of the Preston Partnership.

For more information about the projects making up the Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme and other projects helping to regenerate the Harris Quarter visit Invest Preston - Harris Quarter Regeneration.

Towns Fund - Towns Deals

Towns Fund is a £3.6 billion fund established by the government and managed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to level up towns and cities around the country.

In 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the Towns Fund would support an initial 101 places across England to develop Town Deal proposals, to drive economic regeneration and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth.

A Town Deal is an agreement in principle between government, the Lead Council and the Town Deal Board. It will set out a vision and strategy for the town, and what each party agrees to do to achieve this vision.

Each of the 101 towns selected to work towards a Town Deal also received accelerated funding in 2020 for investment in capital projects that would have an immediate impact and help places "build back better" in the wake of Covid-19.

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