Agenda item

Staffordshire History Centre Project - Update

Joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council)


The Committee considered a report by the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) updating them on progress with regard to the Staffordshire History Centre (SHC) Project (schedule 4 to the signed minutes).


Members learned that good progress had been made since their previous meeting including successful completion of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s (NLHF) Mid-Stage Review in December 2020.  The Activity Plan had been re-written following intelligence provided by the Audience Research and Learning Plan to include target audiences currently underrepresented in the Audience Profile ie:- (i) Families and Children living within 21 miles/37 minute drive from Stafford; (ii) School Groups in Staffordshire; (iii) university Students and Academics; (iv) Adult Learners in Staffordshire; (v) People from Different Cultures and Backgrounds; (vi) People from Areas of Low Engagement in Staffordshire; (vii) People from Rural Communities in Staffordshire; (viii) People with Early On-set Dementia and; (ix) Voluntary Youth Groups in Staffordshire. 


The Project Design Team had produced an updated design report to include a new garden with planting with planting to promote increased biodiversity. In addition, storage capacity work had been undertaken to increase storage capacity from two to four floors and submission of a revised Planning Application. A decision on this Application was expected before May 2021 ie prior to further consideration of the Project by NLHF. Also, an Access Strategy had been commissioned to cover physical and intellectual access across the building, activities and interpretation.


The Project contractor had revised the Interpretation Plan to include interpretation of the garden and restoration of the William Salt Library building. Following feedback from the Heritage Fund at the mid-stage review the content of the plan had been rewritten by the staff team to reflect the changes in the Activity Plan. 


A Covid-19 impact assessment had been produced in-house which focused on how the building, exhibition, and visitor spaces could be used if social distancing measures were still in place when the Centre opened.


The Business Plan had been written following intelligence from audience research, market analysis, the Activity Plan and strategic context to include updated cashflow and income projections.


The Monitoring and Evaluation Plan had been revised to take account of changes made to the Activity, Interpretation, Design and Business Plans by extending it to include an evaluation of the capital works involved in the Project.


The Cost Plan had been updated and tested to reflect recent quotations received adjusted rates of inflation and the need to provide contingency arrangement where necessary. In addition, further funding had been secured from the County Council and William Salt Library Trust to accompany the additional resource identified from the Archive and Heritage Service budget, as follows:-



Cost heading



Capital costs

Construction, interpretation, website,  equipment and fit out


Other costs – activities

Staff costs, activities, equipment, materials, training and travel


Other costs

Recruitment, publicity and promotion, evaluation, contingency, inflation, increased maintenance and management costs, non-cash contributions, volunteer time






With regard to timescales, it was expected that a Round Two application would be submitted to the NLHF on 1 March 2021 with a decision expected in June 2021. Subject to permission being granted, the project would then commence in October 2021.


During the discussion which ensued Members recognised the importance of engaging with families and children as reflected in the revised Activity Plan. In reply to a question, the Deputy Chief Executive and Director confirmed that whilst the 2020/21 Covid-19 Pandemic had prevented visits by school groups owing to a lack of social distance compliant accommodation, staff had made visits to a number of schools. However, it was hoped that further progress would be made following the lifting of lockdown restrictions and with the assistance of Entrust, the County Council’s education and skills support services partner.


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.


(b) That the further progress made in the Staffordshire History Centre Project be welcomed.


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