Planning permission and listed building consent for the new £7.75 million St Albans Museum and Gallery project has been granted by St Albans City & District Council.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed that with no objections from Historic England or a National Amenity Society the application can be approved locally.
The plans are for an ambitious scheme to convert the City’s Town Hall into a new state-of-the-art museum and art gallery.
Now the Council is able to proceed with the project, building work is expected to start in the spring.
Historic England – a public body tasked with preserving the built environment – has worked closely with the Council on its proposals to transform the Grade II* Listed Building.
The planning decision is a second piece of good news following the recent £2.5 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) award to fund the scheme. HLF had previously provided £300,000.
Councillor Annie Brewster, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage, said: “This is an early Christmas present for all those involved in the project.
“Modernising and enhancing this Grade II* Listed building for a new use has been enormously challenging. Many congratulations to all those who have worked so hard.
“It is another brilliant moment in our attempts to create a fantastic museum and gallery in the heart of our City.
“All of the planning hurdles have now been successfully negotiated and work could begin as early as spring next year.
“The museum and gallery will be a wonderful showcase for the District’s cultural history and a major visitor attraction that will help boost the local economy.
“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 old Town Hall dates from 1830 and is one of the most prominent features of the City’s Conservation Area.
The new museum and gallery will rejuvenate the cultural life of the District.
It has been in development since 2012 in a partnership between the Council, St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust and the University of Hertfordshire. It is scheduled to open in autumn 2017.
The overall cost will be £7.75 million with the Council committed to providing funding of £3.3 million.
St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust, a registered charity, is leading efforts to raise £1.7 million with the HLF providing the rest of the required finance.
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, please contact Mike Gray, chairman of the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust, registered charity number 1051868. He can be contacted through the Trust’s website: http://www.stalbansmuseumsandgalleriestrust.org.uk/.
For more details about the new museum and galleries project: www.renaissancestalbans.org.uk.
For information on Historic England which has supported the project since its inception:https://historicengland.org.uk/