A council has pulled the plug on an “ambitious” project to overhaul a Grade II-listed museum.

Watford Borough Council has decided it will not press ahead with its expansion of Watford Museum in Lower High Street after deciding it was not “financially viable” at this stage.

The council won a bid from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and around £200,000 has been invested in the project so far, with some of this being covered by the fund.

Alongside the expansion, improved disabled access to the museum, which is currently only accessible via steps, will not take place.

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor says the council has had to weigh up the costs and “risks” of the project and say projected costs as well as ongoing costs of running a new museum service are “too high”.

The lottery bid was for around £1.5 million, with the council putting in around £500,000.

Construction costs rose above £1 million and projected costs of running the museum following the improvements rose by almost £200,000 a year, the council says.

Labour councillor Asif Khan believes the council has "wasted" a lot of money.

He said: "I'm in favour of a museum expansion and it would have been great for it to go ahead. But the amount of money that has been spent is disappointing to say the least. It has been wasted. A building survey for repairs doesn't cost £200,000."

But the council says the costs of building survey has not been a waste of time because repairs for the listed Georgian building are necessary and planned. Mr Taylor adds that consultation has helped the council develop a better understanding of what people want at the museum as well as the education programmes.

There are no plans to close the museum and Mr Taylor says the council will look at ways to improve access.

He 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 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.

"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.”