A MAJOR project to renovate Richmond Old Grammar School for community use has ground to a disappointing halt after an unsuccessful Lottery bid.

It brings to an end a two-year fundraising drive by the Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust (RBPT) who intended to convert the historic building into a community venue.

Despite support from local councils and Historic England, the group has now learned it has been unsuccessful in its bid for £1.8 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

James Gravenor, who has been leading the team working to repair and repurpose the Old Grammar School, said: “It is a great disappointment to hear that we have been unsuccessful in our bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

"I would like to thank all the volunteers who have worked very hard over the past two years to develop an excellent project and to raise the funds to help finance it.

"I would also like to thank the county, district and town councils for their help and the many people who have contributed funds.

"However, without the Lottery funding, we are unable to go ahead.

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Richmond Old Grammar School

"We will refund anyone who has requested a refund and has donated £10 or more.

"We will use any non-refunded donations to support The Station and any other projects the Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust promotes or supports.

"The Old Grammar School will remain in the ownership of the district council and I wish the council success in finding an alternative use for this wonderful building.”

Mr Gravenor added that the RBPT continues to run the highly successful Station Project in Richmond and will carry on working for the preservation of historic buildings in the district.

Despite the disappointment of the Lottery bid, work will continue to try and bring the old school building back into use.

Richmondshire District Council leader Angie Dale said: “We are very disappointed that the bid was unsuccessful but as owner of the building, Richmondshire District Council will be exploring all options to try to ensure it is restored to community use.

“That work is at a very early stage but we will be working with all partners to build upon the huge amount of hard work that went into the RBPT bid.”

Overall the scheme to transform the school was expected to cost around £2.6m and North Yorkshire County Council agreed to temporarily underwrite the scheme with £500,000 of taxpayers' money.

In May this year the County Council’s executive agreed to loan the RBPT funds for the conversion of the building after hearing there was a danger of its fabric deteriorating further if conservation work did not start in the coming months.

Council members were told while the trust had raised more than £340,000 towards £800,000 of match funding needed for the £1.8m Lottery grant, it could take several years to raise the remainder of the funds and Lottery bosses were insistent on the match funding being guaranteed.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Corporate Director of Strategic Resources, Gary Fielding, said: “The county council was very impressed with Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust and its plans to convert Richmond’s Old Grammar School.

“We felt they had presented a strong business plan and so offered the trust a loan facility to assist in the project, so we are naturally disappointed that the bid was unsuccessful.”