4th March 2019

New Heritage Learning Centre gets the green light

Planners & CFCE give the go ahead for complex project to extend listed building

We are thrilled to have received both CFCE (Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England) approval and planning permission for our proposed Heritage Learning Centre extension to Leicester Cathedral, as part of the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project. The design was approved along with a planning officer report which states that ‘The proposed Heritage Learning Centre will complement the church and surrounding buildings with a building that is architecturally distinct and visually interesting.’

The project aims to widen visitor participation and accessibility, as well as creating facilities key to the building’s ability to cope with increased visitor numbers boosted since the reinterment of Richard III in 2015.

Dean of Leicester, David Monteith added: ‘The Heritage Learning Centre will allow us to protect the historic setting of the cathedral, while engaging with many more communities through exciting interpretation and learning facilities. It will also help us to cater for the increasing numbers of visitors the city has welcomed since the reburial of King Richard III.’

Our design scope includes the reordering of the main Cathedral spaces and a new Heritage Learning Centre (HLC), accessed directly from the Cathedral through a new link. The new extension building will provide an orientation gallery, education space, a research base, and vital cathedral back-of-house facilities and storage areas.  The HLC will replace the existing Old Song School extension and will be spread over 4 floors, with two above ground and a double basement.

The HLC will be constructed of concrete and thermally efficient engineered clay blocks, with stone external walls sympathetic to the context. Brise-soleil will span between vertical glazed terracotta fins, providing passive shading and enlivening the facade.

van Heyningen & Haward partner James McCosh said:

‘The project has not been without its challenges given the sensitivity of the historic cathedral and its setting and the very limited site available. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with stakeholders and delivering a fantastic project – and transforming the positive impact of the cathedral for years to come.’

In May 2017 the Cathedral received confirmation of successful application for the Heritage Lottery Fund (NLHF) Round 1 funding. The Round 2 funding decision is expected early this Summer, and subject to that being positive, the phased construction programme is expected to complete in 2022.