St Albans sports centre gets public thumbs up

PUBLISHED: 15:42 02 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

WORK on a new-look Westminster Lodge sports centre could start imminently in the wake of overwhelming support for the second option following this summer s public consultation. Members of the public were asked for their views on two options to redevelop t

WORK on a new-look Westminster Lodge sports centre could start imminently in the wake of overwhelming support for the second option following this summer's public consultation.

Members of the public were asked for their views on two options to redevelop the St Albans sports centre on land currently used as a car park fronting Holywell Hill.

The majority opted for the more expensive second option which includes a spa and a restaurant/bistro.

They will be incorporated alongside a 25x17m pool with a learner pool, fitness suite and a four-court sports hall.

But there will be no diving boards despite the concerns of the St Albans Diving Club and an additional report is to be drawn up to look at how athletics facilities - which will be even further away from the new Westminster Lodge than the old ones - can be improved.

Discussions are ongoing with the drama group the Company of Ten over the Abbey Theatre which will be behind the new sports complex rather than facing on to a car park as it does now.

Supported

The council received more than 600 responses to the consultation which a report to Cabinet next Tuesday says, demonstrated that the second option was, "overwhelmingly supported by the public"

St Albans council's planning portfolio holder, Cllr Sheila Burton, said this week that she was not surprised that Option Two had emerged as the favoured scheme.

She explained: "It tied in with what was coming out of the City Vision that people wanted to emphasise the Roman heritage with the building of baths. This will have a bigger and better spa which I thought was encouraging and exciting and something people had aspired to but in a financially prudent way."

She admitted the second option was costlier but said the money was in place to make an early start on site, subject to final council approval.

Despite discussions with the diving club, it had not been possible to include premium boards in the second option because it would have meant major changes such as a deeper pool. Metre boards on the side of the pool had also been ruled out because they would have impacted on the moveable floor.

Cllr Burton said speed was of the essence in getting the scheme off the ground because of the favourable financial position for tendering at the moment. "We need to grab the opportunity," she added.

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