Revealed: St Albans' new Westminster Lodge

TWO options for the new Westminster Lodge leisure centre which would result in it fronting Holywell Hill have been revealed. St Albans council has opted to build it on land in front of the Abbey Theatre and the plan is to integrate it with the home of the

TWO options for the new Westminster Lodge leisure centre which would result in it fronting Holywell Hill have been revealed.

St Albans council has opted to build it on land in front of the Abbey Theatre and the plan is to integrate it with the home of the city's resident drama group, the Company of Ten.

Both options have the same facilities but the first includes diving provisions and a caf�, whereas the second has a 'spa experience' and a bistro-style restaurant which could open in the evenings.

Sport and healthy living portfolio holder, Cllr Sheila Burton, said this week that the cabinet had opted for the Abbey Theatre site because there was potentially less archaeological damage from building there and the new sports centre would front Holywell Hill which would make it more visible.


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Piazza development

She said there had been discussions with the Abbey Theatre with a view to trying to integrate the two buildings, including a new front for the theatre and a piazza-type development.

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The spa in option two is designed to exploit the city's heritage and would include a Roman baths-style experience which is thought to have the potential to attract day visitors. The more expensive option of the two, it would be expected to break even on running costs alone within two years.

The facilities included in both options are a 25m x 17m swimming pool with a 50 per cent moveable floor and spectator seating for 250 people, along with a smaller learner pool and confidence water section for children up to four years old with water spouts.

There would also be a village style changing room, a fitness suite with 200 stations, a youth gym, cr�che, two exercise studios, spinning studio, four sports courts and a climbing wall.

The two options will now go out to public consultation from July 21 for a three week period and the council hopes that the model they choose will be in place by 2012.

Some of the funding for the project could come from residential development on the existing site but the bulk of the cash, up to �6million, will be borrowed from capital receipts.

That includes money from the controversial sale of the Ridgeview homeless hostel in London Colney which is currently being emptied in preparation for it being put on the market. The council may also borrow up to �11,835,000 based on several anticipated savings, including the closure of Bricket Wood leisure centre and the existing Westminster Lodge facility.

Funding could also come from partnership contributions but Herts County Council has decided not to provide the �2million for the project which was agreed in principle for the youth provisions.

Instead they have decided to retain the Pioneer Youth Centre on its existing site in St Albans.

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