London Colney leisure centre set to get go ahead

A NEW leisure centre is to be built in London Colney despite fears that it might be put on hold because of the cost of rebuilding the fire-ravaged Batchwood Golf and Tennis Centre in St Albans.

St Albans council’s cabinet decided on Tuesday that it wanted to go ahead with the project for a new centre at Cotlandswick to replace the existing facility in Perham Way.

Cabinet has now asked officers to undertake further work with London Colney parish council over requests which were made during consultation including the retention of as much green space as possible and the need to ensure villagers are not priced out of using it.

The new leisure centre will include a 60-station gym, dance studio/multi-purpose room, a single court sports hall, eight five-a-side pitches, a seven-a-side pitch with synthetic turf and a lounge and bar area. About 50 per cent of the Cotlandswick site will remain as green space.

New leisure facilities in London Colney had been promised to replace the existing recreation centre which is coming to the end of its useful life and Bricket Wood Sports Centre which closed last year.

But the shortlisted tenders for the scheme were disappointing and there were concerns that it would have to be put back because of the cost of rebuilding and improving Batchwood.

But Cllr Mike Wakely, the council’s portfolio holder for sports and leisure, said yesterday: “I am delighted that we are able to go ahead with this third new leisure facility for the district. Westminster Lodge will be opening in late 2012, Batchwood will be rebuilt after this year’s terrible fire and now London Colney’s Cotlandswick project is taking one step closer to becoming a reality.

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“The extra consultation that we have done over the last few weeks has been a very good opportunity to fill in some of the detail about what people really want and need in the London Colney area.”

The cabinet decision was welcomed by district councillor for London Colney, Jacob Quagliozzi, who said the Labour group had worked hard to ensure that the south of the district would have high quality, affordable leisure facilities for all of the community.”

He pointed out that together with the council’s programme of garage redevelopment around the site, which was also agreed at the cabinet meeting, there was a chance to do something really positive for the village which would help tackle long-term and unresolved issues of anti-social behaviour and parking in the close vicinity.

Lib Dem leisure spokesperson, Cllr Anthony Rowlands, said his group had embarked on the scheme to provide a new leisure facility in the south of the district and added: “I am glad to see that the Conservatives have not blocked this particular initiative.”