AMBITIOUS proposals to turn a derelict Wordsley glassworks site into a glittering new museum are moving ahead as the project has scooped over £1million in funding and a plan for the first phase has now been submitted.
Complex Development Projects has been working with the British Glass Foundation on plans to transform the listed former Stuart Crystal factory site into a world glass centre for the last few years.
An application by Morris Homes for 48 new homes on part of the site was approved 12 months ago and described as a key part of making the £5.5million museum scheme viable.
Now a plan for the first part of the project has finally been submitted to Dudley Council and the Growing Places Fund has awarded £1.3million towards the scheme.
Ian Harrabin, managing director of Complex Developments, said: "It has taken almost a decade to save the Stuart Crystal buildings and I really believe we are now almost there.
"This wouldn’t have been possible without the very strong support of the council and the community, in particular the British Glass Foundation who have supported us through thick and thin. The building will make a great home for the new museum”
He said the historic former glassworks buildings in Camp Hill have been left in a “terrible state” after a series of vandal attacks and he added: “It’s had loads of fires and has been lying uncovered for many years - the roof has been burnt out. We need to start.”
The submitted application is for initial work to repair the structure of the listed buildings before a detailed proposal for the glass centre is put in.
If all goes to plan work could start in September and Mr Harrabin said the museum could be open in late 2015.
Graham Knowles, chairman of the British Glass Foundation, said: "Now we have started to think about how to display the collection in the new museum space it is all becoming very real.
"The building is in many ways perfect, with its long history of glassmaking on site and its location opposite the Red House Glass Cone. The design ideas for the interior are at an early stage but we are all very excited that this will be a forward-looking modern museum using the best of our history. It really is going to be exceptional.”
Images of how the exterior will look, published exclusively in the News in 2012, show the facility as an iconic glass-fronted building which will showcase the borough's glass treasures and highlight the area's heritage through interactive displays.
Designs drawn up for the site include an open courtyard, canal-side restaurant/cafe, striking light sculpture marking the spot where the old White House Cone once stood and underground tunnels linking the facility to the Red House Glass Cone on the opposite side of the A491.
A decision on a bid to the European Regional Development Fund for £2.15million towards the project is still awaited.