Cheshire Archives and Local Studies – Vision development, options appraisal for rehousing and outline activity plan

Janice worked with Cheshire Archives and Local Studies to develop a vision for the future of the service, to conduct an options appraisal for rehousing the collection and to produce an outline activity plan.

Cheshire Archives and Local Studies cares for collections relating to Cheshire’s history. The collections date as far back as the middle ages and cover everything from businesses and schools, to hospitals and other local organisations.

This project was a relatively long-term piece of work which developed in three main stages over a number of years, exploring the future direction of the service.

Stage one: vision development

The first stage was to discuss and develop a future vision for Cheshire Archives and Local Studies. Janice planned and ran workshops with staff, stakeholders, users and depositors to gather information and ideas from those already involved in the service. Combining what she learned from these workshops with desk-based research and best practice, she produced a vision document and a forward plan.

These documents have since been used to direct the service, including the development of its Heritage Lottery Fund project.

Stage two: options appraisal

Cheshire Archives and Local Studies’ Heritage Lottery Fund project centres on the relocation of its collections, as the current building was no longer fit for purpose.

Janice worked with the management team to develop a set of criteria for assessing potential sites and to use these to consider six possible options for delivering the new-look service.

Two of these options were thought to be deliverable, and Janice worked with the management team to further develop the detail around them. She planned and delivered options analysis workshops for staff and stakeholders, as well as consulting with high-level stakeholders such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and The National Archives.

From all this, she produced a report for senior management detailing the process and the options. This report formed the basis for the development of further discussions on building locations for the future, and in a bid for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Stage three: outline activity plan

As part of this long-running project, Janice, along with Associates Marge Ainsley and Emma Parsons, also developed an outline activity plan to support the Stage 1 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The development of the plan considered the service’s audience and priorities, as well as its strategic context, best practice and competitors. It also included an audit of current digital activity, the potential for new digital activity and other ways to bring in new audiences.

Consulting on ideas, views and the proposals was crucial, so Janice, Marge and Emma prepared and ran a series of workshops and interviews to gather the views of staff and other stakeholders at various points along the process.

The team brought together everything from their research and consultation feedback into an outline activity plan, which included an action plan and a digital delivery plan. The plan was successful in passing the first stage of the funding process, ready for Stage 2.

Next steps

Cheshire Archives and Local Studies is now progressing with its plans to create two new bespoke history centres, one in Chester and one in Crewe, which will provide suitable environments for housing the collections, as well as displaying them, making them more interactive and accessible to members of the public across the county.

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