Plans for transforming our museum and creating a new, updated and improved attraction for Guildford are moving forward.

Lead Councillor for Social Welfare, Heritage and the Arts, Cllr Nikki Nelson-Smith comments: “We are making good progress with our plans for an exciting and dynamic new museum, which will also provide a strong link to the castle grounds opening up and connecting these significant heritage sites. This will also be an important visitor destination for the town and a place local people can be proud of.

“As part of the redevelopment we are taking this fantastic opportunity to link the past, present and future with innovation and creativity. As well as preserving our heritage for the future we will boost community involvement with increased learning and participation including public events and activities.”

A working group made up of councillors and officers is leading the project, supported by independent specialist advisers. This work includes exploring collaboration with external groups, such as the Surrey Archaeological Society, Carollian Wonderland Trust and the Surrey Infantry Museum, to broaden the museum’s offer and boost its appeal to a wider audience.

An independent feasibility report has identified options for the museum and castle site, and we engaged with Historic England early on in the process and are working with them closely. Our major community engagement project ‘Your Stories Your Museum’, which is funded by Arts Council England, has involved more than 1,600 local people and 21 events over 18 months. It has inspired the community to join in and have their say in helping us to create and shape an enhanced museum for the future.

The Borough, Economy and Infrastructure Executive Advisory Board will consider a detailed update report at its meeting on 9 April. The next stage of this long-term project includes looking at different ways to help with external fundraising, including the establishment of a fundraising trust. We will also be working up more detailed concept design and business plans so we can submit a planning application, with construction work aiming to start in 2020-21.

Adds Cllr Nelson-Smith: “It’s important to emphasise that this is a large-scale, lengthy and complex project on a historic site, relatively unchanged since the 1960s, involving many different partners and stakeholders. There are strict requirements, procedures and processes that we must follow to ensure the development is completed properly and sensitively, and all of this takes time. We’re already working with Historic England and we’re proud to be leading this exciting new phase for our museum to bring it in to the 21st Century.”

To view the Borough, Economy and Infrastructure Executive Advisory Board meeting agenda and more details please visit www.guildford.gov.uk/council