WORK to redevelop one of Sunderland’s oldest buildings can begin after a community bid landed a £153,000 grant.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) cash will allow Friends of Hylton Castle and Dene and Sunderland City Council to begin the first stage of plans to make the site a heritage-led learning and educational resources centre.
If successful, the money could lead to the groups securing a second and final grant worth £2.9million.
Keith Younghusband, chairman of the Friends of Hylton Castle and Dene, said: “This is the best news possible, and we are absolutely thrilled.
“We have been working towards this for many years and feel that we are another step forward to fulfilling our ambitions to see the castle restored to its former glory.
Sunderland City Council cabinet member for culture, Councillor John Kelly, said: “This grant is fantastic news, and helps bring us another step closer to our vision for Hylton Castle as a centre for the community, major visitor attraction and asset for the city.
“The city council will also contribute to the funding of the project and work with our partners to put the foundations in place for the second stage of the bid, which is anticipated will go forward in 2014.
“The Friends of Hylton Castle have been working for the last 20 years to bring the castle back into use, not just for the local community but for the city and its visitors.
“Internally, there are plans to use all three floors to provide a learning and educational area, exhibition space, cafe, and space for meetings and conferences, while the grounds space will be developed to stage events.
“This funding will not only help bring this historic building back into community use, but also ensure that it is appropriately conserved and enhanced for future generations to enjoy.”
Ivor Crowther, of HLF North East, said: “Hylton Castle is an iconic building cherished by the community in Sunderland and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund is absolutely delighted to be giving initial support towards this project.”