Change of use for Lincoln’s Usher Gallery likely as council’s executive approves heritage plans

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Lincolnshire County Council’s executive has approved plans for a new-look heritage service, which could see a change in use for Lincoln’s Usher Gallery.

Lincolnshire County Council announced earlier this year that it would be sticking by its recommendations to change the use of the Usher Gallery in Lincoln to a registration, celebration and coroners services building – despite 827 people against plans within the consultation process.

In January, the county council unveiled the proposed blueprint for a more ‘sustainable’ heritage service, which would save the authority £750,000 a year.

This included £2-4 million plans to redevelop The Collection Museum in Lincoln to expand its exhibition space.

Some 1,104 people shared their views on the plans during the subsequent 10-week consultation, which saw 827 of those taking part against the changes suggested for The Collection and Usher Gallery.

Now, the executive has approved all recommendations from the county council – including controversial plans for the Usher Gallery – which is owned by the City of Lincoln Council.

Councillorr Nick Worth, executive member for heritage, said: “These changes will bring our heritage to new audiences, mirroring the recent successes at Lincoln Castle, which has seen a surge in popularity.

“We know there’s a passionate minority who want to keep the Usher Gallery as it is, but we had to take the decision that’s best for the county as a whole.

“The Usher Gallery Trust and Historic Lincoln Trust have shown an interest in taking on the gallery and we are open to that.

“So while things are moving forward, we will continue our discussions with them to see if they can come up with a workable proposal.

“Of course, any changes at the Usher would need to be approved by the gallery’s owner, the City of Lincoln Council, and we will continue to explore the options with them.

“We’re confident that we can create a heritage service that has something for everyone and can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike for years to come.”

As part of the plans, medieval manor house Gainsborough Old Hall will be returned to its owner English Heritage in October 2020, when the current lease comes to an end. English Heritage will then be responsible for the running of the site.

Similarly, the council is looking to hand over control of Discover Stamford, Burgh Le Marsh Windmill, Ellis Mill and Alford Windmill. The arrangements at Heckington Windmill would remain unchanged.

No changes are planned for the Museum of Lincolnshire Life and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre under the proposals.