Lottery chiefs have given the go ahead for work to start on the project to convert St Albans old Town Hall into a new museum and gallery.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has pledged £2.8 million towards the total project cost of £6.75 million. The district council has undertaken to provide an additional £2.25 million and the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust is leading the fundraising for the remaining £1.7 million.
The project, entitled Renaissance: St Albans, is also being supported by the council’s museums service and the University of Herts.
Last year the HLF awarded first phase development funding of £282,000 for the project but work could not start on the partnership project until the HLF approved detailed plans for the first phase.
The HLF permission, which the council learned about earlier this month, is a major step forward for the project after a £3 million bid was turned down a year ago.
It means the council can now push ahead with appointing a project manager, an architect and an exhibition and interpretation designer to develop the plans which will be needed to support a second round application for the balance of the £2.8 million HLF pledge.
The main thrust of the project is to move the Museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road to the Town Hall,
Visitors will be able to discover 2,000 years of St Albans history through innovative and inspirational displays and tour the Town Hall’s court room and prison cells. The university’s contemporary art gallery, currently located in the Museum of St Albans, will also move.
The aim is to make the Town Hall a gateway for exploring other attractions in the city, including Verulamium Museum, the Cathedral, the Roman Theatre and the medieval Clock Tower. The museum and gallery will also provide a cultural heritage resource for the region.
A community fundraising programme will be launched in June but in the meantime a number of donations and pledges have been received, including from both the St Albans University of the Third Age and St Albans Civic Society.