Major plans to expand the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon have taken a huge step forward following news that the project will receive £69,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The £1.8million scheme, revealed by the Gazette in January last year, would provide new exhibition space and improve educational facilities, the tea room and shop. Museum manager Alison Mills said the extension would completely transform the museum. Im thrilled that the HLF is supporting us and cant wait to work with the museum development trust to deliver a much-improved museum for Barnstaple, she said. By creating extra space, we will be able to display our 20th and 21st century collections for the first time, as well as refurbish our current displays The proposed extension, the first major improvement planned at the North Devon Council-owned museum in 25 years, would extend the current building on the Long Bridge side. Councillor Dick Jones, the councils culture cabinet member, said: Were delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. Many of the displays are over 20 years old and in need of updating and any improvements are currently limited by the lack of space. I will be watching the development of this project with interest and look forward to seeing the detailed plans to deliver an extension fit for the cultural needs of North Devon. The HLF funding along with match-funding from the museums development trust, and existing museum budget will cover the cost of a development phase. Detailed plans and costings will be submitted to the HLF as part of a stage two bidding process in November. A decision on further funding to complete the work will be made by the HLF in March 2017. If successful, the museums new extension could be open by summer 2018. Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said: Were pleased to be supporting the development of these exciting plans. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will bring many more fascinating objects in the collection out on public display, including the items that tell the social history of life in the area over the last 100 years.