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Space Centre bosses advise Leicester City Council over Richard III visitor building


Bosses from the National Space Centre have been advising Leicester City Council as it prepares its plans for a Richard III visitor centre.

City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby intends to transform the empty 1860s-built Alderman Newton School, which stands next to the car park in St Martin's where the king's bones were found.

It is hoped more than 100,000 people a year will come to the centre to learn about the last Plantagenet monarch and the target for opening is spring next year, to coincide with the interment of the bones at nearby Leicester Cathedral.

Sir Peter, who oversaw the purchase of the building for £850,000, said he had been having informal discussions with space centre representatives – chairman Mike Kapur and chief executive Chas Bishop – about how the centre could run.

He said: "Running an attraction such as this is not part of the core business of the council, so it is sensible to seek the advice of people who do know more about such things.

"We have, in The National Space Centre, something that was unexpected at the time and has worked extraordinarily well. It has exceeded its original business plans and made itself sustainable. That is something the Richard III visitor centre will have to achieve.

"Mike and Chas have given us some very useful advice and told us of some of the potential pitfalls we may face when developing a major attraction."

He said more than 30,000 people had already visited the small and temporary Richard III exhibition in the city's Guildhall and the Alderman Newton School had 15 to 20 times as much space for exhibits and school trips.

Mr Bishop, chief executive at the space centre, said: "The focus of the discussion was very much about target audiences and how they can attract the people they want to attract.

"Do they want an adult audience, or do they want a family audience? Will it be heavy on information or will it be more interactive?

"Probably the answer lies somewhere in between."

Sir Peter has approved a £355,000 budget to develop the attraction, saying that without the investment a great opportunity for the city's economy would be lost.

That will pay for a creative director and an interpretation specialist to work on the project as well as feasibility work.

About £135,000 of that will pay for promotional lamp-post banners and a marketing campaign.

In the long term, it is anticipated a trust – similar to the one running the space centre – will be formed to manage the attraction.

Space Centre bosses advise Leicester City Council over Richard III  visitor building

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