St Albans Batchwood tennis centre to begin resurrection
PUBLISHED: 18:57 28 July 2013
LIKE a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Batchwood Tennis Centre will shortly begin its resurrection two years after a blaze destroyed the St Albans sports hall, causing massive disruption to players.
St Albans district council’s (SADC) head of community services Richard Shwe has confirmed that construction is to begin at the hilltop site on August 16.
Its replacement will cost £6.2 million and incorporate a historic locally listed wall, formerly part of the Gorhambury estate which dates back to the 18th Century.
The massive project is expected to take close to 40 weeks to complete, meaning it should be open to the public in May next year.
The new facility will house two squash courts, six indoor, two mini and three outdoor tennis courts.
It will also boast a meeting room, coaches area, 40-station multi-gym, studio, bar, dojo centre for judo and a spectators’ viewing gallery.
Mr Shwe said the position of the new centre would be five metres further from neighbouring cottages than the original tennis centre as residents had voiced concerns about the facility’s proximity when the fire in August 2011 threatened their homes.
Funding for the multi-million-pound development has come from a variety of sources including the council’s loss adjuster, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), SADC itself, the British Judo Club and possibly a grant from Sport England.
Mr Shwe said SADC had consulted with Batchwood Tennis coaches, the LTA and Sport England on the design of the building.
The start of construction was the culmination of 20 months of hard work at council, he added.
SADC had to receive the go-ahead from the Secretary of State before building could begin as the site is in the Green Belt.
Apart from a new look, the sports hall will also have a new name – the Batchwood Sports Centre – to reflect the multitude of sports on offer.
And as the location has recently seen the construction of new bowls and golf clubhouses, the site itself will be renamed Batchwood Sports Park.