New plans for Harpenden leisure centre submitted

A picture of the new Harpenden leisure and culture development. Picture: St Albans council.

A picture of the new Harpenden leisure and culture development. Picture: St Albans council. - Credit: Archant

The plans for the new Harpenden sports centre have been unveiled.

The designs put forward by St Albans council (SADC) involve a new learner pool, new sports facilities and changing the existing sports centre into a cultural hub.

The council’s deputy chief executive for commercial and development Richard Shwe said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new £18.8m leisure and cultural hub for Harpenden and the surrounding area.

“Before finalising the plans, we needed to consider feedback from the public consultation and to look in detail at proposals for the landscaping and exterior of the buildings.

“The plans were submitted in January and have been influenced by features suggested by stakeholders during the consultation process. These include a larger learner pool than currently exists in the current swimming pool, as well as a ramp entrance and extra balcony seating for the arts and cultural centre.

“The plans also include detailed proposals for landscaping and the buildings’ design that aim to complement the parkland setting.”

Last year, the leisure centre was criticised for being unclean, leading the council’s portfolio holder for leisure to say the facilities “urgently need replacing”.

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Last summer, the council began consulting the public on plans to expand the pool premises and turn them into a new leisure centre, in addition to the new cultural hub.

The council’s portfolio holder for leisure Annie Brewster said: “These proposed new leisure, arts and cultural facilities will serve Harpenden, Redbourn, Wheathampstead and the surrounding area for generations to come so great care has been taken in developing the current plans for these amazing modern facilities.

“An extensive pre-application consultation has produced fantastic ideas that have helped influence and improve on the initial plans. Now the public will have another opportunity to comment on the proposed development through the planning process.”

The budget for the Rothamsted Park development rose from the original £18m to £18.8m and £257,610 was spent on consultants, who as part of their work helped run the design charette, a public meeting, and carried out feasibility work on costings and gave the council planning advice, among other work.

According to the plans, the pool premises will also include a larger gym, a new dance studio, and a new sports hall.

Portfolio holder for commercial and development Julian Daly said: “The redevelopment of leisure, arts and cultural facilities in Harpenden is part of an ongoing strategy to upgrade facilities across the district.

“In the last five years, the council has opened Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, re-built Batchwood Sports Centre following a fire, and built the new Cotlandswick Sports Centre.

“It is also looking at upgrading the Alban Arena and improving athletics facilities located in St Albans.”

As the council is the developer on the planning application, the planning referrals committee will have to adjudicate on whether to grant them planning permission.

To view plans and application forms and submit comments go to or visit the council’s offices.

All comments must reach the authority by March 21 and must include the reference 5/2018/0157.