St Albans Town Hall museum funding bid rejected

St Albans Museum.

St Albans Museum. - Credit: Archant

MULTI-MILLION pound plans to turn St Albans Town Hall into a new city museum have suffered a major funding setback, it has emerged.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has rejected a £3-million bid from St Albans district council to help transform the Grade II listed building into a new museum, basement gallery and visitor information centre.

The council was told that the grant, which would have formed almost half of the required cash, “ticked all the boxes” but was turned down due to a high demand for funds.

Cllr Mike Wakely, the council’s portfolio holder for sports, leisure and heritage, said: “We had a very polite and positive letter saying they [HLF] recognised the need but they have not got enough dosh.

“We are meeting with them very soon to get feedback on where we are and looking to have another crack of the whip.”

He went on to admit the application for the new museum, which would replace the Museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road, had been rushed through to meet the HLF’s strict deadlines but he said that had not impacted on the quality of the bid.

Cllr Wakely also pointed out other methods of financing the £6.75 million project have been agreed, including a £1.75m contribution from the council and exploring the potential to collect donations from high-net-worth individuals.

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He added: “This is time for an esteemed resident to stand up.

“I think if we move the museum we have location, location, location. The other fantastic thing is that it brings the Town Hall back to life again.”

The move forms part of the council’s 10-year vision for improving the city’s museums. The existing Museum of St Albans has been criticised for its “inflexible layout” and it is thought the central location of the Town Hall would help attract more visitors.

A new bid to HLF is due to be submitted by June and will be discussed at tonight’s cabinet meeting.