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Maintenance scheme will improve museum

Published on Friday, August 26, 2016

A NEW main staircase and visitor lift are to be created at Leicester’s New Walk Museum and Art Gallery as part of a major maintenance programme.

The existing main staircase at the city’s largest museum doesn’t meet modern standards for health and safety or accessibility, and the only lift available to visitors is a goods lift, which must be operated by staff.

As part of it its maintenance budget, Leicester City Council has now drawn up plans to replace the existing staircase with a more accessible one, redesign the museum’s entrance lobby and install a new passenger lift more suitable for wheelchair and pushchair users.

The works to replace the stairs would cost £543,000, plus an extra £80,000 for a lift to be installed in the entrance foyer. The cost would be met by £300,000 from the council’s Property Capital Maintenance Provision budget, plus up to £343,000 funding as part of the council’s Economic Action Plan budget.

The work is part of a £1.7million city-wide Property Capital Maintenance Programme of improvement works announced this week by the city council.

The proposed package of maintenance works also includes conservation of the Roman Peacock Pavement at Jewry Wall Museum, maintenance at Belgrave Hall and refurbishment of Abbey Pumping Station’s steam shovel.

Elsewhere, fire safety improvements and repairs to water tanks will be carried out in a number of council staff buildings, and asbestos removed from others. Other planned maintenance includes various external repairs to buildings, and pathway repairs at some parks and cemeteries. 

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This maintenance programme concentrates on works which are needed to bring council-run sites across the city up to a good standard. 

“New Walk is our flagship museum, which attracts over 200,000 visitors a year, but some parts of the building itself are in need of maintenance and modernisation. 

“The main staircase isn’t very accessible, and there is only very limited lift access to the upstairs galleries, which makes it very difficult for people with wheelchairs or pushchairs.

“Jewry Wall’s Peacock Pavement is a wonderful example of Roman art, so it’s important that it is properly conserved and presented so that future generations of visitors can continue to enjoy it, along with the city’s other heritage gems.”

Detailed designs for the museum works are being drawn up by architects Maber, and the council is in the process of applying for listed building consent which will be needed to carry out the changes. 

The decision is due to be confirmed by the City Mayor on September 6, with work due to be carried out before the end of the financial year in April 2017.