New cricket clubhouse is unveiled for Harpenden Common

An architectural impression of Harpenden Cricket Club's proposed pavilion

An architectural impression of Harpenden Cricket Club's proposed pavilion - Credit: Image supplied

A cricket club in Harpenden hopes to cash in on the much-lamented closure of the town’s hotels, by building a pavilion on the common which could host community activities.

An ambitious fundraising campaign is set to be launched by Harpenden Cricket Club should its plans for the replacement of its 45-year-old pavilion - just lodged with St Albans district council - be approved.

But the scale of the project, which has a bigger footprint than the current premises, has raised concerns locally.

Town councillor Dr Simon Leadbeater has queried the bid to expand to the rear of the pavilion, particularly as it is common land, saying, “I don’t agree that an increase in the footprint is appropriate.

“I also don’t entirely accept the premise that the club should transform itself from being a local cricket club into a venue hire business.”

A spokesman for the club, David Josephs, confirmed the plans “do show an increase in the footprint; the vast majority of which is to the rear of the present structure towards the groundsman’s shed”.

While the pavilion would primarily be used by club members, the hope is that outside of the cricket season the building could be used by community groups for the likes of Pilates classes or scouts activities from September until April.

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Given that the affluent town no longer has a hotel, David said, “there is a shortage of meeting spaces in Harpenden”.

Land at the site of the former Gleneagle Manor Hotel is being developed into apartments and Fairview Homes has recently sought approval to convert the former Harpenden House Hotel - the town’s last hotel - into homes.

David said: “When the current pavilion was designed we had 120 members and the club now has 750 local people on its books. The cricket club has been operating from the common for over 150 years - it is in a unique location.

“We need it to be sustainable, and the aim is to build something that will last for the next 40-50 years and we need to have a venue big enough to host local events.”

David added: “Hardly any houses overlook the pavilion. I think it’s in keeping with the common. And as it is a cricket club first and foremost, there would be limitations as we wouldn’t want to disrupt any neighbours - we would be sensitive to them.”

He said that if the council granted planning permission the club would immediately embark upon “the challenge” of raising about £600,000 to demolish the current premises and build a replacement pavilion.