A PROPOSED history centre to house the collection of the Durham Light Infantry and County Durham archive will go ahead if a North-East authority agrees to pay for the project after a bid to get lottery funding failed.

The £17m Durham History Centre at Mount Oswald Manor House, on the outskirts of Durham city, has not been given the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

But Durham County Council, which is behind the proposal, says it wants to move ahead with the plan and has worked out a timescale to fund the centre over the next three years.

Councillor Ossie Johnson, cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural affairs, said: “Obviously, we were disappointed but we recognise the importance of this major project to the whole of the county so we are extremely keen to ensure that it still goes ahead which is why we are seeking to fund the core capital costs ourselves.

“County Durham has a distinct identity and its communities have a deep sense of their history and heritage.

“This project offers us an unrivalled opportunity to preserve, promote and celebrate that wide and varied history.”

The cabinet is being asked to agree to continue with the project at a meeting next week.

FUNDS: The DLI Museum, in Durham, closed last year. Campaigners have launched a new crowdfunding campaign FUNDS: The DLI Museum, in Durham, closed last year. Campaigners have launched a new crowdfunding campaign

The DLI Museum at Aykley Heads, which closed in 2016. The new history centre could house the DLI collection

The proposed centre at the nineteenth century Grade II listed manor house would include the County Durham Archive, which is moving as part of plans to relocate County Hall from Aykley Heads, where is it currently kept.

The archive, which covers 900 years of history and covers five miles of shelving at County Hall, was recently damaged by a flood because of a lack of suitable space.

Plans are also being made to include part of the DLI collection, which was previously kept at the now-closed museum at Aykley Heads as well as the Durham Register Office, making it a venue for weddings and civil ceremonies.

The council is in advanced negotiations with the owners of Mount Oswald over the acquisition of the property for a “nominal” amount. The building was taken over by the Banks Group, which is developing the former golf course for housing, in 2014.

If it goes ahead, some of the revenue costs would be met from council reserves, with ongoing costs coming from the budget.

The council has already approved funding of £7.8m, with further bids of £6.6m and £3.3m to be made in future years.

The council says there is “unprecedented support” for the scheme.

About 600 people took part in a consultation on the proposals, with 83 per cent of respondents in favour of co-locating collections on the site.

It is hoped the new centre will be open by the summer of 2022, with the registration service relocated in 2021. The record office is expected to leave County Hall by spring 2022.