Multi-million pound bill for St Albans’ Batchwood tennis centre

MILLIONS of pounds will be spent rebuilding the fire-ravaged Batchwood Tennis Centre - but the district council is hoping most of the money will come from insurance and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

Rebuilding the centre which was destroyed in an arson attack in August - at the time of the London riots - is expected to cost between �3.4 million and �6.55 million depending on which redevelopment option is chosen.

Insurers have indicated they will fund like-for-like replacement of the building but the council is hoping that the LTA will provide sufficient funding for a state-of-the-art new tennis centre.

A report to this week’s meeting of the council’s cabinet said that the scale of the project would be determined by the funding from insurance payments, external funding from the LTA and any additional funding which the council wants to allocate to the project

Replacing the bowls and golf clubhouses which were also destroyed in the Batchwood fire will be met fully by the council’s insurance.

Cabinet agreed to approach the rebuilding as two separate schemes and appoint a project management and design team for both the bowls and golf clubhouses and the tennis centre.

They also agreed to to contribute �250,000 from the existing leisure budget to support any early development costs.

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Portfolio holder for sports, Cllr Mike Wakely, said: “The message we have received from listening to residents is proceed as quickly as possible.”

Cllr Tom Clegg voiced concerns about the wide gap between the anticipated costs of the new tennis centre but was reassured by cabinet chairman, Cllr Julian Daly, that the involvement of the LTA would determine whether or not the financial element would be at the top end or not.

He added: “The LTA couldn’t be more supportive of our ambition to create a bigger, better Batchwood. They will react as quickly as possible once we have a scheme in place.”