Decision time for St Albans Museum project set to rejuvenate the city’s ‘cultural vivacity’

Proposed new St Albans Museum and Art Gallery at night

Proposed new St Albans Museum and Art Gallery at night - Credit: Archant

Crucial funding for the ambitious St Albans Museum and Gallery project could be announced this week.

It is one of two major decisions looming for the scheme which, if successful, could result in construction starting next year.

St Albans district council has its fingers crossed for an application seeking £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards the major project – about one-third of the total cost.

A business plan for the scheme was presented to the council’s scrutiny committee last Thursday (5), with councillors told that the proposed redevelopment of the Museum of St Albans was at the heart of long-term plans to rejuvenate the “cultural vivacity of the city”.

The conversion of the former Town Hall, with the support of the HLF, to operate as a museum and gallery, including a new basement gallery, is the first phase of the 10-year vision for St Albans Museum agreed by cabinet several years ago.

HLF has already awarded £300,000 towards the project, while the local authority has committed to providing capital funding of £2.55 million and revenue funding of £250,000. It will also seek to provide £500,000 from other sources.

St Albans Museum and Galleries Trust, a registered charity, is leading efforts to raise £1.7 million, including – it hopes – donations of £570,000 from charitable foundations, £926,000 from wealthy individuals, £70,000 from businesses and £134,000 from the community.

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Richard Shwe, head of community services at the council, told the scrutiny committee that there has been a positive response to the project, as it would provide the heart of the city with a cultural hub.

He added: “This is just the start of the museum’s renaissance for St Albans, and over the last eight years that is something a number of councillors and members of the public have wanted to ensure gets to regional level.”

On November 16, a planning committee will discuss an application to turn the Grade II listed building into the museum and gallery.

Listed building consent is also required.

The decision will then be sent for approval to Communities Secretary Greg Clark, who is likely to announce a decision in mid-January.