Bold extension to Preston Park Museum creating a space for national touring exhibitions is approved
Ambitious plans to provide a bold, modern extension to Preston Park Museum have been approved.
The proposals, which will create a large, flexible exhibition space to allow for nationally significant touring exhibitions and loans, were approved by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Planning Committee on Wednesday (8 November).
The museum will be transformed into an innovative and inspiring visitor destination, with the new building providing a space to showcase more of the museum's collections for visitors to get up-close and personal with.
A new image shows the two-storey extension to the west of the existing museum building, connecting to the popular Victorian Street.
Visitors will be welcomed through a new entrance and on the ground floor there will be interactive galleries and an open collection store, presenting hundreds of fascinating objects which have never been on display before. There will also be a new café overlooking the orchard.
The first floor will incorporate 3 large inter-connected spaces, equipped with special humidity and temperature control systems to allow unique and prestigious touring exhibits to be presented in the museum.
Preston Hall is a Grade II Listed building and is a popular venue with around 150,000 visitors each year. Further development will support and enhance its current offer, with materials used in the new extension complementing the historic building.
There will also be an extension to the existing orchard at the northern end of the site to connect the spaces with the historic walled garden. Plans also include new, hard and soft landscaping around the new building, including areas of hardstanding and low-level planting, as well as relocation of the staff car parking areas.
The planning approval also includes the extension of the existing south car park, adding almost 100 spaces for visitors.
The investment at the popular visitor attraction in Eaglescliffe will provide significant benefits to the region by improving access to culture and heritage for the Borough's residents and people across the Tees Valley, as well as boosting tourism in the local area.
Councillor Steven Nelson, Cabinet Member for Health Leisure and Culture at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: "I am pleased that plans to transform Preston Park, providing even more opportunities for families to delve deeper into the area's history, have been given the go ahead.
"Preston Hall is a much-loved venue housing an important and diverse collection of objects, all telling important stories about the Borough. The new extension will allow us to permanently display a larger proportion of our collection, illustrating more of our local history.
"The improvements will also present us with opportunities to host national exhibitions and do things which people in the region couldn't otherwise experience."
The transformation of Preston Park Museum and Grounds is being funded after the Council secured £20million for improvements to Yarm and Eaglescliffe from the Levelling Up Fund as part of the Stockton South Constituency.
Further improvements which are also planned for the park, including a new café with outdoor seating facilities and toilets, the repurposing of the aviary and showcasing the important story of the Stockton & Darlington Railway close to the original 1825 track bed, will be included in future planning applications.
Work will start on site on the extension and car park in the new year. The new extension is expected to open in 2025.