MAJOR refurbishment work due to start this month at Glusburn Institute will see a host of access improvements.

The Arts and Community Centre has secured £130,000 in grants to pay for the long-awaited work.

Most of the improvements will aid disabled people, who for the first time will gain access to all parts of the historic building.

The community centre’s volunteer management committee this week announced it had secured the last piece of funding needed to begin construction work.

Local firms including RN Wooler and Keighley Lifts will carry out structural alterations including the installation of a 13-person lift - big enough for wheelchairs - and the removal of a staircase from ground floor to second floor.

Other work includes new male, female and accessible toilets on the first floor; an accessible toilet on the ground floor; level access on the first floor to the Alan Clough Memorial Hall; and the widening of doors for wheelchair access.

Centre spokesman Jason Smith said the work would enable the building to be opened up to more people.

He said: “This is one of the biggest projects the building has seen in recent times. It is vital to the sustainability of the venue and ensures we continue to open our doors to all the community.

“Given the nature of the building and with it being Grade II listed, we have to be sympathetic when making alterations.

“The building does not lend itself to major changes, but working with our architect we have plans and designs which will work really well without altering the layout of the building drastically.”

The project is being led by Gill Birks, chairman of the centre’s trustees, who this week publicly thanked the various funding bodies.

Funding has come from the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund, Garfield Weston Trust, Bernard Sunley Foundation, and Glusburn and Cross Hills Parish Council.

Gill said: “The plans for this work have been in place for some time but it has been extremely difficult to obtain the funding. We are all now delighted that we can go ahead.

“The installation of the lift will bring huge benefits, not only to current users, but also those who cannot currently access the building.”

Work is expected to begin in mid-August and be completed by November. Regular groups will continue meeting most weeks, but may be in different parts of the building.