Major new Harpenden leisure facilities are on the cards

PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 August 2016

Harpenden Public Halls

Harpenden Public Halls


New leisure and arts facilities for Harpenden could be the district council’s next major project after the completion of work on similar facilities in St Albans.

As a priority project for 2016/17, the council is looking at the best way of redeveloping and improving Harpenden swimming pool, sports centre and the Public Halls, its entertainment venue.

The aim would be to open a new Harpenden Leisure Centre by December 2018 and a new Harpenden Arts and Cultural Centre a year later.

A briefing to last week’s meeting of the council’s cabinet heard that the main aim of the project was to improve the swimming pool and sports facilities while increasing gym capacity.

Should the scheme be endorsed by the September meeting of cabinet, the current swimming pool site would be redeveloped to provide an integrated leisure centre with dry and wet side facilities and the existing sports centre redeveloped into a new arts and cultural hub.

Harpenden Public Halls would be redeveloped and car parking capacity improved.

A study completed in April this year showed that not only was the scheme possible but also financially viable so it has now been taken to the next stage.

The Sports Consultancy (TSC) has been appoointed to undertake project management of the first stage of scheme and expects to complete its business case by the end of next month.

Its findings will go to a scrutiny committee before a further report to cabinet in September where endorsement will be sought for the overall cost and funding strategy for the project.

Proposals would go out to public consultation next January and if they are met with approval, detailed designs will be developed and submitted for planning approval.

Cllr Annie Brewster, the council’s portfolio holdesr for sports, leisure and heritage, said: “The council is committed to providing affordable sports and fitness facilities in modern environments for residents to enjoy.

“So far, we have delivered three new developments: Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, Batchwood Sports Centre and Cotlandswick Leisure Centre. As part of this strategy, we are now exploring an exciting opportunity to transform our leisure, arts and cultural facilities in Harpenden.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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