Plans drawn up for redevelopment of Harpenden Public Halls

Harpenden Public Halls are being turned into housing and business space. Picture: St Albans District

Harpenden Public Halls are being turned into housing and business space. Picture: St Albans District Council - Credit: Archant

Harpenden Public Halls will be turned into a housing and business space as part of a major development of the town centre.

St Albans District Council is replacing the ageing Public Halls in Southdown Road with a new cultural centre in Rothamsted Park.

The redevelopment of the halls will provide £5.5 million to help fund the new centre, and plans have been drawn up with the help of community groups and interested individuals.

Those interested in contributing to the designs were invited to attend an engagement event run by an independent expert, which involved a weekend of talks and workshops. The findings were then analysed and set out in a report.

Following the discussions, the preferred option was for 1,640m² to be earmarked for housing and 900m² for commercial space. Of the housing space, 40 per cent will be set aside for social housing, which on current estimates will provide between 10 and 12 properties.

The rest will be used for homes to be sold to private buyers, which is expected to generate £5.5 million. The business premises will be rented out to provide long-term income for the council.

The designs also allow for 60 underground car parking spaces, a courtyard within the development, a public square and a public footpath running through the site from the Common to Arden Grove.

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An update on the plans, produced by the community design review, was presented to the council's cabinet on Thursday, June 20. The cabinet agreed the plans were financially viable and gave approval for the project to be moved to the next stage.

Once this is completed, detailed plans will be drawn up before the planning application is submitted.

Cllr Robert Donald, portfolio holder for property, commercial and development, said: "The Public Halls had reached the end of their life and I am confident that with community support we are well on the way to producing a high-quality development on the site.

"We will continue to consult with the community as the plans are developed."

The cultural centre is being built on the site of Rothamsted Park sport centre, and is due to open in early 2021. The adjacent swimming pool building is also being extended to create a new leisure centre.