Work to create a spectacular £7.75 million Museum and Art Gallery in St Albans’ Town Hall is due to begin early next month.
The asbestos discovered in one of the ground floor ceilings has now been removed and the excavation work to construct a 168m2 basement gallery can now start.
An archaeologist will monitor the excavations in case anything of historical interest is uncovered. Nothing of significance was found when trial pits were dug.
Almost 90% of the funding has been secured to transform the Grade II* listed building in the heart of the City into a major cultural attraction.
Councillor Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport, Leisure and Heritage for St Albans City and District Council, said: “The conversion of the Town Hall will take up to 18 months.
“It is one of the biggest City Centre construction projects we have had for many years. We are starting the work so we can open the museum and art gallery in the spring of 2018.
“We do not want this to be a just-over-the-line project, so we still need to raise the final £700,000 to ensure the building is not only returned to its former glory but is also cleverly modernised to provide the quality the City and District deserves for a 21st century cultural hub.
“Official cultural grant funders, businesses and the public have already shown their overwhelming support and I am confident, with such generosity, we can reach our target.”
Contractors have agreed a construction plan with the project team from St Albans City and District Council.
Its aim is to keep disruption to pedestrians, motorists, shops, offices and the charter market to a minimum.
Artistic hoarding boards with sponsor’s logos and information about the new museum and art gallery will shortly be installed to separate the public from the site.
Throughout the work, the market will continue to operate, although a few stalls adjacent to the Town Hall will be relocated.
Construction deliveries will not be made on market days, Wednesday and Saturday.
One of the first construction tasks will be the digging out of a basement to form a new gallery.
While this work is undertaken, the footpath on the Town Hall side of Chequer Street will be closed along with the pedestrian crossing opposite estate agent Connells. The bus stop beside Putterills estate agent will also be suspended.
Pedestrians will be able to cross Chequer Street using the pelican crossing at the other side of the Victoria Street junction.
Alternatively, they can use one on Chequer Street between the HSBC bank and the entrance to The Maltings beside Joules clothing shop and Jamie’s Italian restaurant.
The public toilets at the Town Hall will be closed and people directed to ones by the Bricket Road and Drovers Way car parks.
Part of the pedestrianised area in front to the Town Hall will become a delivery zone for the site. Gatemen and banksmen will oversee vehicles going in and out.
When vehicles cross to or from the road, temporary access gates will be opened and used as barriers, keeping pedestrians safe and preventing them straying onto the route.
Plans have been drawn up to keep the amount of construction traffic to a minimum.
Delivery routes to and from into the City Centre have been agreed to keep roads as clear as possible for the public.
The Council agreed last year to use Willmott Dixon as the main building contractor. The company is signed up to the Considerate
Constructors scheme and adheres to Codes of Considerate Practice beyond statutory requirements.
This covers noise, behaviour and community elements including employing local sub-contractors.
St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust is leading efforts to raise the final amounts needed for the project with the Museum due to open in 2018.
Businesses wishing to appear on the hoardings should call 01727 296148.
Information about other naming opportunities, sponsorship and donor recognition, can be provided by the Trust, registered charity number 1051868.
They can be contacted at the number above or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or www.stalbansmgtrust.org.uk.
For details about the about the project and its progress, please see:www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk
Councillor Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport, Leisure and Heritage, St Albans City and District Council. Email: email@example.com; Tel: 01438 832255
Contact for the media:
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City & District Council, Tel: 01727 296130, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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