Plans for museum centre revealed for Colchester

Artist's impression of The Wonderhouse in Colchester

Artist's impression of The Wonderhouse in Colchester - Credit: Archant

Plans for a new museum and heritage centre in the heart of Colchester have been unveiled.

Artist's impression of The Wonderhouse in Colchester

Artist's impression of The Wonderhouse in Colchester - Credit: Archant

Colchester Borough Council (CBC) wants to turn the former bus station in Queen Street into a cultural and creative hub based around the Colchester Museums Collection.

Called The Wonderhouse, the site would include six ground floor shop or workspace units, with a new Digital Collections Centre on the first floor.

As well as allowing more of the items held by the museums service to go on display, it will also form an education centre where people can get to grips with the artefacts.

Development of the site – which is within the St Botolph’s regeneration area – would also reveal a hidden part of Colchester’s Roman wall which is not currently in the public view.

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The cost of building the site has not been revealed as it is commercially sensitive until contractors have been found.

However as well as funds from CBC’s revolving investment fund, used to recycle income from existing capital projects into new ones, the scheme is dependent on grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council.

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The council’s funds would come from the sale of the existing Museum Resource Centre site in Ryegate Road, which could be turned into housing.

Tim Young, councillor for culture at CBC, said: “It is very exciting, if we can make it stack up – and I think it does financially.

“It has the potential to be a wonderful scheme which will really open up that part of town.

“It will give us the chance to display some of the works we don’t have room to, and we could hold active workshops where people can view and even hold some of the treasures that are stored away and belong to the people of Colchester.

“There is potential for education, residents and tourists.

“This is something that has probably been too long in coming, and will be a brilliant addition to what we have on offer in Colchester.”

Mr Young added that it would take “a couple of years” to become a reality if everything went to plan.

The revolving investment fund committee will debate the proposals during a meeting next week.

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