Amount spent on consultants for Harpenden leisure centre and St Albans museum revealed

PUBLISHED: 16:00 06 October 2017

Scaffolding around the old town hall as it is transformed into the new museum and gallery. Photo: DANNY LOO

Scaffolding around the old town hall as it is transformed into the new museum and gallery. Photo: DANNY LOO

Danny Loo Photography 2016

The amount spent on consultants and legal experts for two major developments in the district was more than half a million pounds, it has been revealed.

Concept designs for the new arts and leisure centres in Harpenden. Photo: SADCConcept designs for the new arts and leisure centres in Harpenden. Photo: SADC

In 2016/17, £257,610 was spent on hiring consultants to help on the Harpenden leisure and culture development.

In the same period, £290,868 was spent on consultants, and £4,150 was spent on legal experts: both for the new St Albans museum and gallery.

The consultants on the museum worked on asbestos clearance, exhibition design, and archaeology.

Consultants were also hired to help with fundraising, after the council promised to raise £1.7m of the museum’s £7.7m budget through charity.

On the Harpenden development, consultants were hired for the design charette, a public meeting where residents could have their say on the plans.

Consultants were also tasked with advising on the Local Plan.

St Albans council’s deputy chief executive, Richard Shwe, said: “We are undertaking a number of exciting building projects that will be of tremendous benefit to the community.

“A local authority of our size cannot deliver such complex and challenging projects without the help of a range of external experts.”

On Harpenden’s charette, he said: “We hired a facilitator to organise the design charrette for the Harpenden sport and arts centre to ensure the process was run independently of the council.

“That is now an established practice that we also used when drawing up options for the redevelopment of the city centre opportunity site around the Alban Arena.”

On the consultants hired to help fundraise, Mr Shwe said: “When an ambitious £1.7 million fundraising target was set for the new museum, it became clear we needed to recruit a professional dedicated to the task. That has been a highly successful move with £1.3 million raised so far.

“We are completely transparent about the use of external advisers and details of consultancy fees are published on our website.

“There are also procedures in place to ensure value for money, such as tendering and a scrutiny committee which examines our spending.”

The council did not comment on the consultants hired to help on the Local Plan.

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