CREATING a new visitor attraction to showcase the borough’s glass treasures at the Red House Glass Cone could cost between £3m and £5m, it has been revealed.
The amount - unveiled by L&R Consulting bosses at a joint meeting of Brierley Hill and Stourbridge Area Committees on Tuesday - is worlds apart from the £120,000 figure council officers originally estimated could be saved by moving the Broadfield House glass collection to Wordsley’s Red House Glass Cone.
And directors from the Liverpool based firm - commissioned by Dudley Council to look at the feasibility of the relocation plan - warned of the difficulties of pressing ahead with such an ambitious and costly project.
L& R director Peter Middleton said: “We live in challenging times and the lottery era of plenty is over.
“Heritage Lottery grants of over £1m are very few - and Advantage West Midlands funding is very much geared towards strategic regeneration and job retention.”
He also said money from trust foundations and benefactors was also hard to come by.
And he added: “There’s no doubt about it that any funding on that scale would require commitment from all glass quarter parties.”
He went on to say option one, outlined in the first stage of the feasibility study put together by the L&R team - which would see the collection moved to the cone and existing accommodation redeveloped, would be “very much a compromise solution”.
While options two and three (which depend on the council’s bid to buy the Stuart Crystal buildings at the cone) would “offer significant benefits”.
Meanwhile - Lib Dem councillor Dave Tyler urged the council to “let go of the glass” and work to set up a trust to oversee the future of the collection.
His comments received a round of applause from many passionate glass fans in the audience - one of whom had travelled 100 miles to attend.
Milton Keynes based William Fludgate, chairman of the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers, said he was “aghast” at the idea of displaying glass at the cramped cone site which he described as a “dingy hole”.
While Stourbridge resident Major Robbins said: “You can’t close Broadfield House to save £120,000 and then spend £5m - it’s a no brainer.”
However - Councillor Les Jones, Dudley’s cabinet member for regeneration and deputy leader of the council, insisted no decision has been made and stressed the move “might not happen”.
He said: “If the move to Red House Glass Cone is not viable Broadfield House will not close.”
Cllr Jones said the feasibility study options were originally set to go before Dudley Council’s cabinet for a decision in October - but the matter has now been put back until December.
L&R’s report on the first stage of the study will be available to view on Dudley Council’s website (dudley.gov.uk) in the next few days.