Axminster heritage project in danger after Lotto bid fails

PLANS for a heritage centre in Axminster could be scuppered after lottery funding was refused. Axminster Heritage Limited s application for �200,000 has been turned down.

PLANS for a heritage centre in Axminster could be scuppered after lottery funding was refused.

Axminster Heritage Limited's application for �200,000 has been turned down - and it has a time limit to use another �200,000 awarded by Devon County Council.

Project leaders hoped to raise a total of �1.5 million to fully develop the centre, to be located in Thomas Whitty House, in Silver Street.

Town councillor Douglas Hull, who previously welcomed the grant for the project, said: "It would be an absolute disaster if DCC withdrew that money. I hope the council will wait a bit longer.

"I think it would be a great loss for the town if the centre didn't get the go ahead because it has a possibility of making a museum that will go along with Jurassic Coast. I hope they can pull something out of the hat to get it going."

DCC, which awarded the grant last year, initially required the additional money be raised within 12 months.

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But a council spokesman told the Midweek Herald there was no immediate time limit on funding.

She said: "The promise for funding from DCC still stands, in the hope they will find an alternative source of funding."

It was hoped that, if the centre was fully operational, it could attract as many as 20,000 visitors to Axminster.

It was planned to move the town museum and Tourist Information Centre into the building - as its current location in Church Street is suffering from dry rot.

Town and county councillor Andrew Moulding, who is also an Axminster Heritage Centre committee member, said the group had not received a formal letter of refusal and did not currently know why their application had been turned down.

He said: "I would like to think we would be remaining positive about it.

"The committee will have to have a close look at it and see if we would be able to resubmit an application or if we have to look at alternative sources [for funding]."

Centre Chairman John Church said it was a difficult time to gain funding in the current economic climate, but they would continue to look for funding elsewhere.

He said: "We are appreciative of the support Axminster Carpets [which owns the building] has given us over the years and their continued support.