'Put St Albans CIty heritage at heart of vision' says society

PUBLISHED: 15:35 04 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

THE heritage of St Albans is its trump card and should be at the forefront of its vision for the future according to one of the county s most historic societies. St Albans and Herts Architectural and Archaeological Society – known colloquially as the Arc

THE heritage of St Albans is its trump card and should be at the forefront of its vision for the future according to one of the county's most historic societies.

St Albans and Herts Architectural and Archaeological Society - known colloquially as the Arc and Arc - is strongly supporting the case for improved cultural facilities in the city centre.

And the society stresses in its response to both the Shaping Our Community strategy and the St Albans City Vision that it strongly supports the case for improved cultural facilities in the city centre with a cultural hub and relocated City Museum.

The Arc and Arc backs measures to focus on mediaeval history, the redesign of the Clock Tower space and new ways to show, explain and understand the city's Roman past

But it is concerned that in the newly-unveiled City Vision, only one of the Master Plan objectives celebrates the historic environment and none mentions culture.

In a letter on behalf of the Arc and Arc, president Professor Michael Cooper, said that while both city centre options proposed a new cultural hub, that appeared to be the Alban Arena and a small arts centre with no mention of a relocated City Museum and Gallery.

Professor Cooper said that the options in the City Vision failed to demonstrate a reasonable balance between commercial and civic/cultural uses and they would like to see a landmark building such as a relocated and enlarged Museum of St Albans.

He explained: "This 'hub' should include not only the new museum but also a cinema, lecture theatre, meeting rooms, etc."

The Arc and Arc would like to see it as, "a truly iconic building" which would show the best of 21st century architecture by resonating with its surroundings and appeal to residents and visitors alike.

He added: "We do not want an iconic building like the Sydney Opera House but we aspire to one that becomes over the years symbolic of a new kind of architecture: frugal rather than extravagant, imaginative, functional and at ease in its context."

He also points out that one way of bringing the heritage of St Albans into full view would be by having statues of suitable people in appropriate places through the city in line with other parts of the county.

There is also no place in the document for public art and the Arc and Arc would like some consideration of the idea of a fountain in a prominent position.

n The role of Scouting should be recognised if a new museum is built in the city, according to county Scout archivist Frank Brittain.

Campaigners for a new museum believe that large parts of the history of St Albans are currently glossed over and last week named around 100 famous local people over the centuries that should feature.

Mr Brittain maintains that many famous people started their Scouting lives in St Albans, including Charles Dymoke Green for whom a window has been installed in the Abbey in his memory.

The Dymoke Green family once owned what is now Oaklands College and members married into the Marten family, producing a new generation of Scouts and Guides.

Mr Brittain also pointed out that sailing superstar Mike Perham, who has just completed a voyage around the world, was a Herts Scout and owed much of his sailing success to the Scout training he received over the years.

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