Plans for new museum and art gallery scrutinised

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News release: 13 April 2015

Plans to transform the Town Hall into a new museum and gallery have been reviewed by St Albans City and District Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee.

Architect's impression of St Albans' new museum and art gallery at night
The Scrutiny Committee received a presentation on the architect’s design and the budget for the project at its meeting on Thursday 2 April.

The design by John McAslan and Partners includes the addition of glazed ‘wings’ to the first floor, linking the northern and southern ends of the building. These glass-covered walkways will enable visitors to walk round the building and see wonderful views of the City. There is also provision for a new temperature-controlled and secure basement gallery to be created under the building to house national touring exhibitions and contemporary art shows. The ground floor will be used to accommodate a visitor information centre, exhibition space to showcase St Albans’ history, an education area and a café.  

The Scrutiny Committee heard an application will be submitted shortly to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a further £2.5m in funding towards the total £7.75m project cost. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already granted £300K to help develop the project plans towards securing a total £2.8m from the Fund.

Funds will also come from the re-development of the current Museum of St Albans’ site which is no longer fit for purpose. The Scrutiny Committee received a presentation on the proposals to develop this site for housing that will then be sold. It heard that following a public ‘charette’ design consultation, plans are being developed to convert the Hatfield Road museum building into townhouses while retaining the principal facades. There are also proposals to build additional homes on the remainder of the site.

A public fundraising campaign is being run by St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust to raise additional funds for the new museum and gallery project.

The proposals to alter the Town Hall and to develop the Hatfield Road site are both subject to planning permission being obtained.

The Scrutiny Committee heard that the Museum of St Albans is set to close later this year in preparation for the redevelopment of the Hatfield Road site. Items will be placed in storage until the new museum and gallery opens in 2017. During this interim period, various activities and workshops will also be held to build the visitor base for the new museum and gallery.
The Scrutiny Committee welcomed the presentations on the proposals. It agreed that a further report on the business plan for the new museum and gallery project be presented to the Scrutiny Committee on 5 November 2015. 

A webcast of the meeting on 2 April can be viewed on the Council’s website. The agenda and papers are also available on the Council’s website.

Contact for the media:
Amanda Wilkinson, 
Media and Internal Communications Officer 
St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819317 
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1. The Local Services Scrutiny Committee examines public services provided to residents in St Albans District, and issues about the area. It reviews policies, makes suggestions for change and improvement, and examines decisions made.
2. More information about the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust’s renaissance: St Albans fundraising campaign is at: