New community hub set to become a reality at last

A vision of the new Sopwell Community Hub.

A vision of the new Sopwell Community Hub. - Credit: SADC

A vision for a new community hub in Sopwell is one step closer to reality.

The plans will see the demolition of the decrepit Marlborough Pavilion, off Cottonmill Lane,  and its replacement with new facilities.

Detailed plans for the scheme will be submitted for approval to the district council’s planning department early next month (March), and if approved the project will be completed within a year.

The new design includes a main hall of 100 sq m, a café, a kitchen suitable for providing event catering and Changing Places toilets.

There will also be washing facilities for members of the Muslim community to carry out ablutions before prayer and a multi-faith quiet room for anyone to use for personal reflection or prayer.

It is hoped the building will be used by a wide variety of local groups and host many different activities. This may include the Scouts, youth groups, yoga and dance classes, play groups and lunch clubs as well as one-off events and celebrations.

New features will include a cycling hub and improvements to the outdoor BMX track. The hub is intended to connect with existing nearby cycleways such as the Alban Way and the Green Ring.

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A number of organisations have helped to shape the plans, including Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub, the Sopwell Community Trust and the Verulam Cycling Club.

Nazir Uddin of  Sopwell Community Trust said they had worked tirelessly for many years trying to bring the scheme to fruition alongside the council and local community.

"We are incredibly thankful to everyone for their support during this journey, but a special thanks to my fellow trustees past and present and all the stakeholders for making this happen. Without your support and confidence we wouldn't have made it this far.

"We are very much looking forward to the next phase of the project which will be to start the build. We eagerly await for the opening of the community hub where people from all walks of life can share common ground.

"A final thanks to our supportive community. Whether it be in person or messages, calls or sharing our social media posts. It means a lot to us and it hasn't gone unnoticed. This community hub is much needed and we are pleased that we are one step closer to making it happen.

"The hub will be our way of giving back to a well deserved community, one that we are so very proud to be a part of."

Capital funding for the project will come mainly from the council’s own resources derived from the sale of new houses at its Leyland Avenue development.

Sport England and British Cycling, have also been approached for grants. Further community contributions may be sought as well as needed.

Cllr Robert Donald, portfolio holder for commercial and development said the plans were now well-advanced: “While there has been talk of making improvements to the Pavilion for many years, I am delighted that we are now actually in a position to action doing just that.

“The council has made it one of its main priorities to refurbish or redevelop existing community facilities and provide new ones where necessary. Marlborough Pavilion is the first of these facilities to benefit from this policy.

“Throughout this process, we have consulted with key community groups and we share their vision of creating a vibrant community hub that will be a great asset to Sopwell and the wider area.

“We will be realising the potential of this building to become a real centre of community activity, providing a base for many different local groups and interests and accessible for all to hire space for a wide range of functions and events.

“This will improve the social, sporting and leisure opportunities for people of all ages. Included in our plans is a cycling hub which is in keeping with another of the council’s priorities to encourage green transport and active travel."