St Albans museum still faces final funding hurdle
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If anyone in St Albans has a spare million pounds that needs to be spent on a worthy community cause, a local charitable trust is really keen to chat with you…
Obtaining money from generous benefactors to fill a funding gap of £1.7 million is the only challenge left as the final planning hurdle has fallen for the proposed £7.75 million St Albans Museum and Gallery.
With no objections raised by either Historic England or the National Amenity Societies, Communities Secretary Greg Clark has given the thumbs up to the joint project.
His backing has allowed the authority to press ahead with the scheme it has developed in partnership with the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust - a charity - and the University of Hertfordshire.
As a result, planning permission and listed building consent to transform the city’s Grade II listed Town Hall into a new, state-of-the-art museum and gallery has been granted by the district council.
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The council’s portfolio holder for heritage, Cllr Annie Brewster, hailed the go-ahead, saying: “This is an early Christmas present for all those involved in the project.
“All of the planning hurdles have now been successfully negotiated and work could begin as early as spring next year.”
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It is yet another piece of good news for the project, which recently received a £2.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – on top of the £300,000 funding it had previously given.
Cllr Brewster said: “Our next task is to raise the remaining funds. We will be making major efforts to do so in the coming months. There are fantastic sponsorship opportunities for businesses and individuals and we will be encouraging everyone to get involved.”
The new museum and gallery has been a work in progress since 2012, with the council committed to providing £3.3 million in funding.
Scheduled to open in autumn 2017, the old Town Hall’s ground floor’s entrance halls will be turned into a reception area and exhibition space. There will be an information resource for the building and city, a specialist shop, café and dedicated education area nearby.
The Victorian courtroom will be renovated and have a number of uses including education and providing additional café seating.
On the first floor, the assembly rooms will be refurbished and used for civic and public events including heritage and art exhibitions. Glazed walkways will connect the front and rear.
The basement will house a secure ambience-controlled gallery capable of hosting national and international exhibitions.
For information about sponsorship and donor recognition, contact Mike Gray, chairman of the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust via www.stalbansmuseumsandgalleriestrust.org.uk/