Northampton's 78 Derngate set for £400k expansion in a bid to 'breathe life' into high streets attractions

78 Derngate is set to undergo a 400,000 facelift.
78 Derngate is set to undergo a 400,000 facelift.

A Northampton gallery and restaurant is set to pick up a £200,000 grant from the borough council in a bid to boost 'better' cultural hotspots in the town.

The trust behind 78 Derngate, town centre, wants to carry out up to £400,000 worth of work to the 19th Century house and help draw more visitors in.

The house in Derngate has been called the 'cornerstone' of the cultural quarter.

The house in Derngate has been called the 'cornerstone' of the cultural quarter.

The house links with nearby 82 Derngate to make the Charles Rennie Mackintosh House, with a restaurant, two galleries and meeting rooms for functions.

But now, papers show the borough council is set to pledge up to £200,000 to the facelift in a bid to 'breathe life' back into the high street in the face of a 'diminishing' retail sector.

The plan, which will be put to the borough council cabinet on December 5, reads: "With the relocation of the University, the need and demand for better and unique cultural activities cannot be ignored.

"This proposal should be seen in the context of a diminishing high street retail sector, which is a trend throughout the UK, not just Northampton, and all towns are seeking ways to breathe life back."

The work would make the house capable of hosting a 'coachload' of visitors.

The work would make the house capable of hosting a 'coachload' of visitors.

Behind the black door of 78 Derngate is the only house remodelled by world-famous architect and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh in England, which the council has called the 'cornerstone attraction' of Northampton's cultural quarter.

The planned extension work would make the shop bigger, improve how customers move around the house and make it capable of holding a 'coachload' of visitors.

The trustees plan to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for half the money for the job, while the borough council would 'match' the grant through the capital budget for 2019-20.

The papers read: "The significance [of 78 Derngate] to the heritage of the nation cannot be overstated. It is a key attraction for the town with visitors from around the world."

It is the only house outside of Scotland designed by world-famous architect and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It is the only house outside of Scotland designed by world-famous architect and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The proposal is set for approval on December 5. Planning permission has not yet been entered.