RAMM Conservation Plan 2003
The Conservation Plan 2003 assesses the significance of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery and the Site immediately to the northwest for which development proposals were prepared in 2003. The Plan then identifies the issues which may be relevant to future development, and sets out policies to guide such development.
The heritage merit of the site is bound up by two key elements:
- the original Hayward buildings (1865-69) and their continuing function as a museum and
- the City Wall and the surrounding historic setting.
The original Museum buildings designed by Exeter architect John Hayward in 1864 are Listed Grade II with the remainder of the pre-1948 additions listed by virtue of lying within the Museum’s curtilage. The Museum’s World Cultures collection has Designated status.
The Roman City Wall forming the northwest boundary of the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument while the surrounding Northernhay and Rougemont Gardens are registered Grade II landscapes. The nearby Norman Exeter (Rougemont) Castle is also scheduled. The site lies within the Central Conservation Area and an Area of Archaeological Importance.
The Museum’s overall heritage merit has become increasingly vulnerable to: decades of intrusive development within its
interior; the current state of the building’s fabric; the pressures to sustain and expand the Museum’s service to the public; and the redevelopment implications of the City’s emerging Castle Quarter strategy.
The historic significance of the site has become subject to neglect and inappropriate use, while the redevelopment plans for the area pose important issues for the site’s future.
The conservation policies set-out in the Plan seek primarily to: enhance the setting of the City Wall; restore the unrefurbished significant spaces within the existing museum; improve the provision of learning opportunities; promote the conservation of the collection; address the issues of physical and intellectual access to the collection; and provide a clear framework for future development and maintenance of the site.
Exeter City Council formally approved the Plan’s policies in the Full Council Meeting held on 17 June 2003.
Current (in 2003) redevelopment proposals for the Museum and site are in accordance with the policies set out in this Plan. The proposals recognise the importance of the existing primary spaces while respecting recent works to the World Cultures galleries; address the repair of the existing fabric; address current and future accessibility issues; introduce new learning and storage facilities; provide new accommodation to house accommodation not best suited for the existing buildings; and impose a new clarity and order on the Museum as a whole for visitors and staff.
Redevelopment will also seek to address the historic sensitivities of the site by: re-engaging the site with the City Wall; reinstating the City Wall rampart and wall-walk; and responding to the aims and objectives of the Castle Quarter initiatives.