Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) and Heritage Trust (EHT) have announced plans for a permanent new heritage centre in the borough.

The two borough organisations revealed today (August 16) they had co-signed a 'Memorandum of Understanding' (MOU) that commits them to developing plans for "a new, exciting, permanent, and multi-use, heritage exhibition centre, situated within Elmbridge."

The EHT have pursued the idea of a permanent heritage centre in the borough over the last year.

They say it will be a boon for the borough and have a raft of benefits for Elmbridge residents including improved education facilities, increased tourism and added benefits for businesses.

EBC hope that the plans will also aid the council's Museum service by reducing costs and improving resources available to the community outreach programme.

Heralding Friday's announcement, EHT Chairman Nigel Abbott touted the likely benefits he expects from a heritage centre in Elmbridge.

"We believe an opportunity exists to develop a high-quality facility, financed by grants and by the local community in a variety of ways, which would also allow the opportunity for Elmbridge Borough Council’s Museum’s service and the EHT to be partners.

"It would be run in partnership with various organisations, but importantly, as a separate charitable trust, it will allow focus and flexibility and provide a focus for all external relationships — particularly funding applications," Mr Abbott pointed out.

EHT said that a number of locations for the proposed centre have already been reviewed.

The next stage of evolution is further discussion with a range of organisations in the borough, they added.

Councillor Janet Turner, EBC’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Cultural Services, said that the council's support was recognition of the importance they placed on promoting Elmbridge's culture and history.

"We understand the importance of preserving Elmbridge’s unique cultural heritage for the generations to come.

"Over the centuries, Elmbridge has hosted many influential historical, royal, political, artistic, sports and scientific figureheads and is the birthplace of the motor-racing, aviation and cinematographic industries.

"We believe the fascinating heritage of the borough should be kept at the heart of the community," she said.

Cllr Turner mirrored the EHT's assertions that the project would be done by involving residents and businesses directly in the process.

"The EHT is an ambitious project which will bring together residents, local businesses, charities and community leaders.

"The museum services will be delighted to support the EHT working group in the development of this project which will be of great benefit to the community," she said.

EHT added it would now look at sources of funding to enable development of the idea further.