Beamish Museum’s plans to build a 1950s Town, Georgian coaching inn and a replica of a Weardale Farm have been approved by Durham County Council’s Planning Committee.
The £17million expansion is hoped to draw in an extra 100,000 visitors to the region and will see the museum offer overnight stays.
Richard Evans, Beamish Museum Director, said: “We’re really delighted with the news that our exciting development plans for Beamish over the next four years now have planning approval – it is a real milestone in the 45 year history of the region’s living museum.
“The decision by Durham County Council was unanimous and it is great to see the important economic and social value of Beamish being recognised and supported so clearly.
“This is the single largest project ever undertaken at Beamish. It will enable us to create a range of new exhibits for visitors to enjoy across the museum site, offering people new ways to experience the history of the North East.
“We will continue to focus on what makes Beamish the special place that it is – using our collections to tell the story of everyday life in our region through time. By 2020 we hope to welcome some 750,000 people every year – including nearly 400,000 tourists from outside the region, which will have a huge impact on the economy in many communities.
“We will also create around 95 new jobs and 50 apprentices at the museum – meaning we should be employing around 500 people by the end of this decade.
“These are certainly exciting times for Beamish – we aim to start construction work at the end of this year – and we hope people will enjoy seeing all the new additions as they are being built.”
Beamish is working with communities across the North East on this amazing project and has received initial support for a £10.75million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant.
The 1950s Town plans include a cinema, houses, a cafe and aged miners’ homes which will provide a centre for people living with dementia, their families and carers.
The new development will demonstrate a time of huge change for the people of the North East and will ensure Beamish tells the story of a period still in living memory – just as was the case when the living museum was first founded back in the 1970s.
The 1820s expansion will feature a coaching inn, where Beamish’s nationally-significant Georgian collections will be displayed, a windmill that was shipped from Sweden to Blyth and a replica of the home of Joe the Quilter.