ARCHITECTS are to be challenged to come up with plans for an £8 million project to transform the derelict Assize Court in Devizes into a home for Wiltshire Museum and community use.

A design brief has been drawn up and is now ready to be released as the next stage in the ambitious project to save the historic building. In November the newly formed Devizes Assize Court Trust under the chairmanship of Bowood owner Lord Landsdowne bought the crumbling edifice from businessman Suleiman Dockrat for £475,000 after years of wrangling.

Architects are told in the brief that they need to include full repair of the building including restoration of damaged architectural elements, extensions to include a café, kitchen and toilets along with outside spaces, specialist lighting and museum displays in their costs of around £8 million before VAT is added.

A spokesman for the trust said: “A fundraising Strategy has been prepared and applications for grant will need to be made to a range of funding bodies including the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The brief has been prepared to accompany an invitation to tender for architectural design and related services for the challenge of restoring, remodelling and extending the former Assize Court building to become the new home for the Wiltshire Museum and to form an integral part of a major regeneration scheme.

“The newly created Devizes Assize Court Trust aims to rescue and restore this fine building to an exemplary standard so that it will once again become an important part of the cultural and economic life of Devizes.

“For the Wiltshire Museum, this will be a transformational project, matching the importance of its internationally significant collections with a world-class building to create a whole new visitor experience to engage and inspire a wider audience and to enhance enjoyment, education and learning.”

It is hoped the work will also link the area to The Wharf.