Work on a new Crawley museum is expected to start in July and could be complete by late 2016.
Crawley Borough Council (CBC), in partnership with Crawley Museum Society (CMS), was awarded £1.15m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to provide the new facility in the town centre.
It will be located in the Grade II listed The Tree and The Tree Annexe, in the high street, with a glass link between the two, and work is expected to start in July and take around 15 months to complete.
Stoneham Construction, Crawley-based RDjW Architects, and historic buildings consultants Oxley Conservation have been appointed to refurbish and convert the listed building into a new museum.
Helen Poole, curator of Crawley Museum, said: “We are very excited to be making progress towards opening the new museum in its splendid new home.
“Meanwhile we continue at our present home at Goffs Park House, but are busily planning for the future.”
Cllr Chris Mullins (Lab, Gossops Green), CBC’s cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, added: “It’s great to see this major project moving forwards and I’m looking forward to see work starting in the next few months.
“The Tree will provide Crawley Museum Society with a vastly-improved exhibition space, which I’m sure will give a huge boost to heritage in the town.”
The total cost of the project is £1.95m, and CBC had already agreed to spend £763,000 to refurbish The Tree and bring it up to standard.
The current museum at Goffs Park House can only hold ten per cent of the CMS’s artefacts, and it is hoped the new home would help improve heritage in Crawley with its central location, architectural quality, and greater size.
Plans would see new specialist display facilities and equipment, educational material developed, and opportunities for volunteers and the public to get involved.
The initial joint bid was lodged with the HLF in 2011 for £998,555, and covered the fit out and alterations, including the specialist display facilities and equipment, to The Tree and The Tree Annexe to make it a suitable location for a museum.
In October 2011 the application was given a first round pass grant, which went towards developing details of the project.
CBC and CMS then had two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for the rest of the bid.
After holding consultation events, including public exhibitions, focus groups, and an online survey, a final total bid was submitted in August 2013 and was successful in December 2013.