What would you want to see in a new Fleetville Community Centre?

Fleetville coummunity centre. Photo: Danny Loo.

Fleetville coummunity centre. Photo: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

Volunteers are working on plans to demolish and rebuild the Fleetville Community Centre.

They want to modernise and strengthen the Royal Road centre, which was originally built in the 1940s and has been running as a community centre since 1982.

“If it does not fall down around our ears before then,” trustee and leader of the project Mike Neighbour said, “we want to erect a new building that’s fit for purpose, either on our own or in partnership with another organisation.”

The building is currently owned by St Albans council, and the trustees intend to apply for ownership of the building in the first half of this year.

In 1939, tunnels were dug under the neighbouring recreation ground to use as emergency shelters, with a concrete cap placed on top of the tunnels.

The centre was built on top of this cap, meaning it has no foundations of its own, and was used as a nursery for mothers working at the nearby Ballito site.

Mr Neighbour said: “It was not expected to have a permanent life, probably about 10 years. It’s done 70.

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“We have done as much as we can to the building as we are required to: replacing all the windows and doors and emergency exits.

And the heating is no longer open coke fires. But the building bleeds heat, and the roof is too low, due to it having been a nursery.

“It’s a labour of love: we have moved walls, improved floors, and local tradespeople have chipped in by giving us pots of paint or selling us materials at less than the cost price.”

Mr Neighbour and other volunteers are currently looking at a range of options, but first want to gain ownership of the building.

The project is creating mixed feelings for some, including Caroline Brooke, whose children used to attend a group at the centre.

She said: “What is lovely is it’s used by lots of different groups: there is a group for people with learning difficulties and two different playgroups. I love that old building because it’s distinctive, but it’s hopeless.

“They could carry on in there, but that would be silly, so as much as I will miss it, I do think it needs to be replaced.”

To find out more about the centre, visit www.fleetville.org.uk