Hampshire Cultural Trust has received initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the redevelopment of Alton’s Allen Gallery and Garden and an expansion of its programme for the local community.

This project aims to redesign and reinterpret the gallery’s nationally significant ceramic collection, create multi-use community spaces, establish a clearer visible link between the gallery and the garden, and develop a new activity programme aimed at attracting a wider variety of people to the venue.

Development funding of £285,591 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help Hampshire Cultural Trust progress its plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant of £1 million at a later date.

The second stage of funding would go towards the building’s redevelopment, exhibition and interpretation design, collections management, development of the visitor experience and a new community activity programme.

Hampshire Cultural Trust, the charity that runs the gallery, is taking steps to fulfil specific objectives in the project, including getting a wider range of people involved in and learning about their local heritage, developing skills and improving well-being in the local community, and boosting Alton’s economy and appeal as a place to live, work or visit.

It believes that working with the community is crucial to achieving the aims of this ambitious project. There will be an emphasis on expanding the volunteering programme, developing skills for new and existing staff and volunteers, and working with local groups. The project would also create jobs, with two new roles fully funded for its development phase.

The Allen Gallery is a focal point for the local community, situated in Church Street in the heart of Alton, and is an intimate setting for one of the nation’s most outstanding collections of ceramics.

Alongside its inspiring permanent displays, the Allen Gallery hosts a wide variety of temporary exhibitions all year round, as well as a regular programme of events and activities for all the family to enjoy, drop-in sessions, talks and bookable workshops.

The development phase will run until December 2023. If the second funding bid is successful the building phase will start in the following year, with the new programme being launched in 2025.