Future plans for Chester Farm will be discussed at Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet meeting next week (10 September).
What will be discussed?
The cabinet report follows July’s announcement that the council’s project to develop the site into a centre for heritage education, learning and community participation had been awarded £3.97 million funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
It also details the full project costs, including a commitment from the council to support the scheme with £4.9 million capital investment over six years if necessary. However, at the same time, work is ongoing to find funding from other external sources to avoid the need for this potential council spend.
About Chester Farm
Chester Farm is a hugely significant historical site, providing evidence of thousands of years of settlement, from at least Mesolithic times to the present day.
The council owns the site and is responsible for its preservation and maintenance.
The Chester Farm site includes traces of Iron Age enclosures and ancient field systems. Below ground there is extensive Roman settlement including a Roman walled town and recent excavation has shown that key elements of the town, such as roads, temples and other buildings, have survived. There was also medieval settlement on the site including the remains of the deserted village of Chester-by-the-Water.
Chester Farm also includes a complex of farm buildings, dating from the 17th to the 20th century together with the remains of formal gardens, orchard and parkland. Extensive ironstone extraction took place in the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and there are also the remains of an ironstone tramway.
Deputy leader and cabinet member for customers and communities Councillor Heather Smith said: “Chester Farm has the potential to become an internationally-significant education and heritage site, which people will want to visit, enjoy and get involved with.
“We are very pleased that the Heritage Lottery Fund has endorsed this vision by allocating us almost £4 million to take forward this important heritage project.
“However, further money will be needed over the next few years to bring to life our exciting plans for Chester Farm, and open up this site to the public. The business plan is based on the council providing extra money to the project, but we believe that we will be able to access other sources of funding instead, and minimise any council spend.”
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