Watford Borough Council comments on HLF project to overhaul Watford Museum
In partnership with Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Watford Borough Council has been working on a project to overhaul the Grade II listed Watford Museum. The original two-phase HLF project was centred on making extensive changes to the Georgian building itself, with the aim of retaining its beautiful and historical features, whilst creating a space fit for a modern museum and heritage service.
Watford Borough Council always understood that this was a hugely ambitious project and that it was vital to first carry out the research needed to understand the full cost implications before starting the building and implementation phase. Having carried out this initial work, the projected costs of the construction and the ongoing costs of running a new museum service are far too high to take this project forward. The council is not willing to compromise on the quality of the updates to this beautiful, historic building, and so have taken the decision not to go ahead with the project at this time.
One of the key aspects of the project was to improve accessibility. Unfortunately, because the building works are not progressing, the council will not be able to make the extensive changes planned but remains committed to doing everything to enable people with disabilities to continue to access all parts of the museum and enjoy their time there.
There are no plans to close the museum and it will continue to run as normal. Watford Borough Council is committed to providing a quality heritage service for residents and visitors now and in the future.
Peter Taylor Elected Mayor of Watford said: “We’re really proud of Watford’s rich heritage and the excellent museum service we provide, which is why we set our sights so high for this museum project. Whilst we wanted to be ambitious for the town, this has always got to be weighed up against the costs and risks of the project. It’s with great disappointment we’ve found that the projected construction costs, as well as the ongoing costs of running a new museum service, are too high for us to take the project forward at this time. The money put in by the council and the Heritage Lottery Fund in this first phase of the project is a valuable investment. It has enabled us to undertake the building surveys needed and create a conservation plan so that we can now go on to carry out essential repairs. We will also be putting into action some of the activity and education plans that we’ve developed, whilst the current service continues unaffected and the museum runs as normal. We also need to think how we can provide even greater access to the museum’s collections so that more people can share in Watford’s wonderful heritage. This pause will give us an opportunity to review how we can enhance the service without spending so much money on the building extension.”