New community centre celebrates £79,000 fundraising achievement

Fundraisers present a cheque for £79K raised for Cottonmill Community and Cycling Centre.

Fundraisers present a cheque for £79K raised for Cottonmill Community and Cycling Centre to Cllr Robert Donald from St Albans district council. - Credit: CaSH

Voluntary fundraisers have presented almost £80K towards the district's newest community centre at an inaugural open day.

Groups including the Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub campaign, Verulam Cycling Club, and Sopwell Community Trust all contributed towards the new Cottonmill Community and Cycling Centre.

The centre, which has halls for hire, together with a community kitchen and café, also boasts a ‘Changing Places’ toilet to enable anyone, regardless of their disability, to participate in activities. Additionally, it has the district’s first set of wudu facilities, for washing in preparation for Muslim worship, available in any community space in St Albans.

The centre is eco-friendly, with heating and hot water provided by an air source heat pump and solar panels, with no gas connection, and a small community orchard has been planted outside.

Outside there is a state-of-the-art pump track, which has already proved to be a major attraction for both children and adults on bikes and scooters, and the existing dirt track, run by Marlborough Trails, has also been refurbished.

The centre includes the new St Albans Cycling Hub, set up as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, which will provide low-cost cycling repairs and maintenance, sell bike accessories and refurbished low-cost cycles.

Michelle Mackenzie, chair of the Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub (CaSH) campaign group said: “More than 100 people came along for a tour of the new facilities, and everyone has been impressed. All the groups worked hard with the council to create an inclusive centre to meet the needs of all the local community. We are very excited to see so much interest from people wanting to organise their events here.”

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Major grants were received from the Sustainable Hertfordshire Fund, and the Hertfordshire Community Innovation Fund. Other donors included Tarmac, St Albans Civic Society, St Albans Cycling Campaign, Sopwell House and councillor locality budgets including £10,000 awarded from Cllr Sandy Walkington’s and Hertfordshire County Council’s Locality Budget. There were also donations to name rooms in the centre.

Cllr Robert Donald, chair of the council’s regeneration and business committee, said: “It really is an incredible achievement for the community groups to raise this much towards the centre.”

Groups wanting to book space for activities in the community centre should go to the Everyone Active website everyoneactive.com/centre/cottonmill-community-cycling-centre/