Amelia Scott centre delayed as building work runs into trouble

The £13.2million Amelia Scott cultural centre is meant to open in the summer of 2021, but this may now have to be pushed back as redevelopment of the existing site has not yet started.

The Council-led project, which has the backing of Kent County Council [KCC] and £4million in funding from the National Lottery, is to be a combined library, museum, tourist information centre and art gallery, as well as hosting Gateway services.

Work to convert the existing museum and library into the Amelia Scott was due to begin this summer, but the Council now say this has not yet happened.

A spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] said: “We had hoped that building work would be underway this summer, but this is not expected to happen now.”

She continued: “This project is a priority for both KCC and TWBC and we will update people as soon as we have the start date confirmed.”

It is understood the building’s listed status has meant the conversion into the Amelia Scott has not been as easy as contractor’s first thought.

When building work finally does begin, all library services will be moved to Royal Victoria Place where KCC has created a temporary facility within the shopping centre, but until work is due to begin, the library will remain open in its current location.

A spokesman for KCC said: “The library in Royal Tunbridge Wells will remain in its existing premises while details of the building work for the Amelia Scott are finalised with the appointed contractor. Because the building work centres on a listed building, it is right that we take time to get it right.

“The library is due to move into a temporary location in Royal Victoria Place Shopping Centre for the duration of the building work.

“We are keen to keep members of the public as informed as possible, and as soon as a move date is confirmed we will inform library users.”

He added that there was no point in moving until building work was ready to begin as that would mean the library would be in a temporary location for longer than necessary.

It has not been an easy start for the development, which caused controversy earlier this year when the Council had to do a U-turn over the naming of the cultural centre.

It had initially dropped the surname of the town’s suffragist heroine and named the centre just ‘Amelia’ but backtracked after being  accused of ‘trivialising’ and ‘infantilising’ women.

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