Community leaders have agreed to grant more than £150,000 towards the renovation of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury.

The money is part of £420,000 of grants agreed by Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Council cabinets from the community infrastructure levy (CIL) funding for projects designed to ensure local infrastructure keeps pace with development.

The highest level of CIL funding went to the ongoing project to renovate Gainsborough’s House, a gallery in Sudbury.

The project began in 2019, when £200,000 of CIL funding from Babergh District Council was successfully secured.

Sudbury Mercury: Jan OsborneJan Osborne (Image: Paul Nixon Photography 01473430707 07904296577)

Councillor Jan Osborne, cabinet member for housing and ward councillor for Sudbury North West, said: “Gainsborough’s House is a site of truly national significance.

“Having Suffolk’s beautiful art and rich history displayed in its homeland is fantastic for Sudbury and the county as a whole.

“I’m delighted to see the project so close to completion, and cannot wait to see the reaction of our town when the doors to the gallery are opened.”

When completed, the site is expected to become a national gallery for local artists Gainsborough and Constable and include new galleries, art collections, a panoramic studio, learning spaces, and a café.

The total expected cost of the project has increased from £7million to £10.6m since 2019, largely put down to rising infrastructure costs and problems associated with the pandemic.

Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House, said: “Three years of building works in the face of unprecedented circumstances have brought this vision to life.

“I’d like to thank the public for their thoughts, support and donations, together with every trust, fund and agency that has helped make this gallery a reality.

“In particular, I would like to thank Babergh District Council, without whose support the project could not have happened.”

The gallery has been closed to the public since 2019 and delayed by the pandemic, but it is expected to reopen in November.

As well as Gainsborough’s House, the projects approved by Babergh District cabinet included: £100k for an upgraded children’s play area at Capel St Mary and £25,000 for a bus shelter in Cockfield.

Projects approved by Mid Suffolk cabinet included £20,567 for a Ringshall play area, and £9,758 to improve the entrance to and build picnic tables for Botesdale Recreation Ground