Initial go-ahead for 10 homes on site of former St Albans Museum

The site of the old St Albans museum

The site of the old St Albans museum - Credit: Archant

Local residents have given an initial thumbs-up to the proposed transformation of St Albans’ former museum into 10 homes.

Shire Consulting has submitted a planning application to redevelop the museum, part of which dates back to 1898, on Hatfield Road, to help fund the £7.75 million St Albans Museum and Gallery to be built at the Town Hall.

The firm is acting on behalf of the district council, which is the applicant, developer and landowner of the site.

The conversion includes 11 car parking spaces, demolition and replacement of a bungalow with terraced housing, along with alterations and an extension to the existing museum building, to create six homes.

Fronting Hatfield Road and sited in the conservation area, the building is locally listed as it dates from 1898, having been built as a ‘County Museum’ before being extended in 1913 and during the 1960s.

Shire Consulting said that in order to minimise borrowings for the transformation of the Town Hall into a new state-of-the-art museum and gallery for the district, the “highest value” needed to be obtained from the former museum, which was considered no longer fit for purpose and hence closed late last year.

The planning consultants said that council’s valuers had advised that the authority would make more money from having homes built on the site, rather than just selling the land outright.

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Shire Consulting wants to keep the best features of the existing building, and replace the bungalow with a more ‘noteworthy structure’.

The main building, constructed in red brick, is three storeys high and is adjoined by an inter-war pebble-dash rendered bungalow, used for administrative and storage purposes by museum staff.

The scheme submitted for approval comprises four townhouses, each with four bedrooms, three storeys high, on the site of the bungalow.

And six residential units - two three-bedroom and four four-bedroom - would be built within a slightly extended museum building, taking the total to 10.

Certain architectural features of the main building would be retained, such as the neo-Norman arched windows.

The scheme is out for consultation with people so far leaving positive comments, including a member of the Look! St Albans group who said the design would “not only benefit the city by funding the museum but will also provide an attractive addition to the built environment”.

A pre-application archaeological survey found ‘nothing of significance’, just two small pieces of late 12th to 14th century pottery during the excavation of two trenches.

Consultation on the scheme ends on February 17.