Funding of £450,000 from East Hampshire District Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy pot has brought the redevelopment of Alton’s Allen Gallery one step closer to realisation.

Hampshire Cultural Trust, which manages it, is ten months into the first phase of a major project, supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to reimagine and redevelop the gallery.

So far the focus has been on rediscovering the collection of internationally-important ceramics held at the gallery and the trust’s central storage facility in Winchester.

Research has been done on more than 3,800 ceramics, unearthing their wealth of stories and discovering themes that connect them, such as their tea drinking, comedy or ornamental value.

Also integral to the first phase have been the development and design of architectural plans to remodel the galley so the newly-researched ceramics can be showcased to better effect and made accessible to all visitors, from novices to those with a specialised interest.

Plans also include creating a dedicated community space, with the overall objective of transforming the gallery into a thriving heritage and cultural hub for Alton and its surrounding villages.

Full refurbishment of the gallery is the second phase of the project, and the community infrastructure levy funding raised from developers building homes in the district is a major step forward.

Deborah Neubauer, the trust’s director of community and impact, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received this very significant Community Infrastructure Levy funding from East Hampshire District Council.

“The redevelopment of the Allen Gallery is a major project for Hampshire Cultural Trust, and when completed we envision that the revitalised Allen Gallery will make a huge contribution to the culture, economy and life of Alton.”