A project to improve 78 Derngate has been given a major boost after Northampton Borough Council decided to match fund the proposals.
The borough council’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday (December 5) to grant £200,000 from its capital funds to the scheme, which is expected to cost up to £400,000 in total.
78 Derngate is the only Charles Rennie Mackintosh house outside of Scotland, with trustees saying: “Its significance to the heritage of the nation cannot be overstated nor its influence on architecture and design in the early years of the 20th Century. It is a key attraction for the town with visitors from around the world.”
On its website, 78 Derngate says it currently boasts ‘a boutique restaurant, light-filled art galleries, a stylish design shop and elegant spaces that can be hired for meetings, events and functions’.
The improvement works will see an extended floor space for a ‘better and bigger shop with better customer flow’ and an atrium that could cope with coach loads of visitors. The extra space created by the extension will also allow for improved independent disabled access - it currently uses temporary ramps.
Deputy leader Councillor Phil Larratt said how TripAdvisor noted that 78 Derngate was the most visited tourist attraction in Northampton. He welcomed the promotion and restoration further noting the proposed improvements to accessibility.
Council leader Jonathan Nunn added: “78 Derngate is the cornerstone attraction of the town’s Cultural Quarter and the only house Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed outside of Scotland.
“We’re delighted to give the 78 Derngate Trust the certainty of the Borough Council’s support, so that they can confidently undertake further design and fund-raising work.
“Not only will these improvements enhance the visitor experience of this major tourist attraction for the town, which welcomes visitors from around the world, but it will also help to ensure the financial sustainability of what is one of Northampton’s most cherished heritage assets.”
The decision by the cabinet will see the council match funds acquired by the Trust from benefactors, up to a maximum contribution of £200,000.
The Trust will need to apply for Heritage Lottery Funding support or funding from benefactors or other sources to access the council’s match funding. They will also have to demonstrate they have access to funds to support any cost over-run.