St Albans gallery and museum given massive Lottery funding boost
PUBLISHED: 00:01 19 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:25 19 November 2015
An ambitious proposal to redevelop the Town Hall into an iconic multi-million-pound museum and gallery has received a massive financial boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The project has been backed with a £2.5 million grant of National Lottery money – worth approximately one-third of the £7.75 million scheme.
It is yet another major step forward for the project, as St Albans district council’s planning referrals committee voted unanimously to back the bid at a meeting on Monday night.
Councillors recommended alterations and change of use be given, along with listed building consent for the Grade II listed Town Hall which dates back to 1831.
Communities secretary Greg Clark will now consider whether to rubber-stamp the approval, as the council is both the applicant and the planning authority, with his decision expected in mid-January.
Robyn Llewellyn, head of HLF East of England, said: “This ambitious redevelopment project will create a ‘one-stop shop’ - celebrating local heritage and culture - right in the centre of St Albans.
“This will provide a much-needed boost to both the local economy and tourism and provide a wonderful opportunity for people to explore the wider history of this beautiful city.”
He thanked National Lottery players for bringing the project one step closer to realisation.
The council’s portfolio holder for heritage, Cllr Annie Brewster, said the authority was ‘honoured’ the flagship project had received such “prestigious backing”.
She added: “This most generous HLF award is crucial to the scheme’s success. It endorses the vision we have to share the district’s rich heritage and culture.
“We are now well on our way to creating a new landmark museum and art gallery with three floors of galleries and exhibition space for residents and visitors to enjoy.
“The Heritage Lottery Fund subjected our plans to intensive scrutiny before they agreed to the grant. I would like to congratulate all those who have worked so hard in securing this successful bid.”
The scheme has been in development since 2012 in a partnership between the council, the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust and the University of Hertfordshire.
Cllr Julian Daly, portfolio holder for planning, said: “A lot of people have worked very hard on trying to create a new museum and gallery in the heart of the city. All that effort is now being rewarded.”
Construction might begin in spring next year.