• Artist's impression of the refurbished entrance to Gosport Old Grammar School

A major redevelopment of Gosport’s Old Grammar School can now go full steam ahead following the granting of planning permission and the award of £100,000 in funding for the project from Arts Council England (ACE) through National Lottery Project Grants.

The Old Grammar School on the town’s High Street currently houses Gosport Gallery, the Play Gallery and hands-on education centre, SEARCH, and is operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT). Planning permission and listed building consent for the iconic, Grade II listed building have been granted for the construction of a new, single storey walkway that will connect the entrance on the High Street with Gosport Gallery at the rear of the building on Ordnance Road, enabling the creation of a new, landscaped courtyard. Approval has also been granted for internal and external alterations, which will see two major additions to the current building: the reinstatement of a museum for Gosport and a new café.

The building will close its doors to the public on Tuesday 31 August for redevelopment work to begin and will re-open to the public in May 2022 with a brand new name – Gosport Museum and Art Gallery.

Paul Sapwell, Chief Executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, commented: ‘We’re thrilled that planning permission has been granted so that we can now forge ahead with creating Gosport Museum and Art Gallery. We are also delighted to have received this invaluable £100,000 award from Arts Council England, which, in addition to the funding we have already secured for the project, means that we will be able to realise our ambitious plans and vision to create this new cultural hub in the heart of Gosport.

‘The rejuvenated building will blend history, heritage, arts, education and culture all under one roof. There will be a programme of exhibitions, talks, workshops and events, as well as curriculum-linked science and history sessions for schools. The new museum will see Gosport’s rich naval, military and social heritage take pride of place in the centre of town, while the café will provide a fantastic and unique meeting space in and for the community.’

Phil Gibby, Area Director, Arts Council England, South West, said: ‘We are very excited to be awarding Hampshire Cultural Trust £100,000 through our National Lottery Projects Grants funding programme for this exciting redevelopment in Gosport’s historic High Street. The new community hub will transform Gosport Museum and Art Gallery, bring invaluable arts and cultural experiences to the local community and breathe fresh life into the beautiful Old Grammar School building.

‘The redevelopment is a key part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone project and will play a central role in Gosport Place Board’s longer term plans for achieving town centre regeneration through cultural redevelopment. We know that investing in culture creates jobs, revives high streets and makes people proud of the place they live – which is why we’re so pleased to support this fantastic project in Gosport from Hampshire Cultural Trust, made possible thanks to National Lottery players.’

In addition to this new award from Arts Council England, the development of Gosport Museum and Art Gallery has been made possible by funding from a number of sources. These include the Gosport High Street Heritage Action Zone programme led by Historic England, Gosport Borough Council, donations from individuals and groups, including the Friends of Gosport Museum, as well as investment by Hampshire Cultural Trust. Hampshire County Council is a key supporter and major funder of the project.

Clare Charlesworth, Head of Region, Historic England in London and the South East, said:

‘This is a major milestone in the Gosport High Street Heritage Action Zone programme. The Old Grammar School building has been a hub for education and culture for over 100 years and we’re excited to see the new-look Museum and Art Gallery making the most of its historic home and transforming into an even better community asset.’

Hampshire Cultural Trust is one of thousands of cultural organisations across the country to benefit from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, administered by Arts Council England, which was set up to support and aid the recovery of the cultural sector following the economic challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.