Proposals to create a new £300,000 heritage centre in Burnham-On-Sea were given the backing of town councillors during a meeting last night (Monday).

At a virtual meeting of the Town Council’s Finance and Resources committee, members considered a proposal from Burnham Heritage Group to purchase a town centre property for the proposed new heritage centre.

The new facilities would showcase the area’s rich history with displays of photographs and vintage exhibits, alongside an education centre, as first featured here in March.

Mayor Cllr Mike Facey said: “We have a lot of local heritage around us so I am quite happy to support this. The potential is there but the cost is frightening, that’s my personal view, but it would be a really good asset for both towns.”

Cllr Nick Tolley responded: “I’m fully in line with your thoughts and agree with them. We have got a lot of heritage in Burnham, Highbridge and the surrounding villages. Something like this is to be commended – it would be good for Burnham-On-Sea, bringing people into our town.”

He added: “The building in question that has been proposed and which we have been asked for our thoughts is going to be a big, big expense. It needs a full survey to get some full accurate figures. We are not inundated with buildings suitable for a heritage centre. There’s no point looking at commercial buildings in the High Street which would be an added expense.”

“I’ve always gone along with the idea that a heritage centre – or call it a museum – would be a great idea for Burnham and I fully support the underlying structure of this proposal but I have my reservations about the old Diamond Garage site down there and the mega expense that this will cost. I have played with the idea of an old railway carriage on the B&M car park – it has worked for other towns with a railway history.”

Cllr Phil Harvey added: “I’m happy to support the proposal in principal but that’s as far as I would go at this stage. Like Cllr Tolley I’m not too certain about the location, but putting that aside, the project will come in around the £300,000 mark. There’s absolutely no way we have that kind of money so it will only become viable if the heritage group – or the two of us – achieve grant aid. We need a fully worked out proposal that we can put to grant funding bodies.”

Cllr Andy Brewer added: “I would like to see a detailed business plan and, as the idea came from the heritage group, it’ll be a lot easier for them to apply for grant funding than it is for the town council. So if they were come to us with something that is established for us to take over the running in the future that would be a lot more financially viable. I agree with the principle and think it could be a real asset to the town.”

Cllr Mike Murphy added: “Mrs Popham, from the heritage group, should be commended on the work she’s done, but I would rather see them forming a trust and going for a CIO (a Charitable Incorporated Organisation) and raising funds from the Heritage Lottery or other grants. I think it’s an important thing to have and would be a great asset for Burnham and Highbridge.”

Town councillors agreed that the Mayor should join the heritage group to represent the council and work with them on a “fact-finding exercise”.


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