Plans underway to revamp Sopwell community hub in St Albans

Marlborough Pavilion is off Cottonmill Lane in St Albans, and will be turned into a community hub fo

Marlborough Pavilion is off Cottonmill Lane in St Albans, and will be turned into a community hub for Sopwell. Picture: Fraser Whieldon - Credit: Archant

Plans to revamp an ageing community centre in St Albans are to advance to the pre-construction stage.

Marlborough Pavilion, off Cottonmill Lane, currently contains a hall, changing room, kitchen and some essential facilities, but St Albans district council wants to improve the building to turn it into a community hub for Sopwell ward.

They have been working alongside a number of community groups, including the Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub, the Sopwell Community Trust and the Verulam Cycling Club, and agreed that the pavilion could be expanded to include a café, additional hall space and a cycle hub. An architectural firm was appointed to create a concept design for the whole building which includes the proposed new features.

A Sopwell Residents' Association spokesperson said: "We are very happy to have been involved in this project from the beginning. The Sopwell community and local business have been extremely supportive of a community centre development on the site and it's welcome news that funding for the project has been identified by the council."

A report on the scheme's progress was made to the council's cabinet in a meeting on Thursday, January 23, and the cabinet agreed to fund the next stage of the project. This will involve appointing a cost consultant to assess the financial implications of the proposals, and a transport expert to look at site access as well as the impact of increased traffic.

An architect will be appointed to design improvements to an existing BMX track, as well as other new facilities, and various external companies will be required to carry out technical surveys of the building and the site.

This work will help determine whether the project is financially viable and prepare for any necessary planning applications.

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Cllr Robert Donald, portfolio holder for commercial and development, said: "Our vision is for the creation of a thriving community hub that would be a great social and leisure asset to both Sopwell residents and the wider community.

"We have listened to what people want this centre to provide and will continue to work with community groups to deliver these aspirations as the project progresses."