St Albans people band together after fire

Council to investigate options for future of Batchwood Golf and Tennis Centre

HOPES are rising that the fire-ravaged Batchwood Golf and Tennis Centre in St Albans will be rebuilt after last week’s blaze.

District council officers have begun examining possible options for its future following talks with local sportspeople and residents.

The fire, which was reported at about 2.40am last Wednesday, gutted the bowls area and destroyed the indoor tennis facilities, although fire services were able to save the gym.

Executive leader of St Albans district council, Cllr Julian Daly, said he met Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper this morning to discuss the well-loved centre.

Cllr Daly said: “My instinct is to replace it. We may be able to replace it with something better. We are going to take some informal soundings from Mandy Franks [who set up the tennis part of the centre 23 years ago], and the bowling club members as to what we need to do, and opposition politicians.

“I would like to see this as an opportunity. The Lawn Tennis Association is very supportive. We will see if we can get something positive to come out of this.”

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Council officers and representatives of their leisure contractor Leisure Connection have met with Batchwood Golf Club and Batchwood Bowls Club to discuss immediate, short-term options for their members’ sports requirements and work out how best they can be supported at this difficult time.

They also met the tennis coaching team to discuss arrangements for short-term alternative provision for both community and high performance tennis, including at Clarence Park. Arrangements have also been made for Batchwood Gym members to have access to all other council gym facilities in the district.

The council’s portfolio holder for sports, Cllr Mike Wakely, said that officers were already working on future options for the centre. The golf course was reopened last Friday, with golfers told to go to the first tee for information as the centre’s reception area has been destroyed in the fire.

He said that Batchwood Hall Nightclub had been very supportive, providing toilet and refreshment facilities and helping everyone in the aftermath of the fire.

Cllr Wakely added: “It’s great to see people working together so effectively to get through this difficult time. I hope that in the end, despite the current problems, we will see something really good come out of this awful fire.”

For more information regarding sports that were formerly at Batchwood Golf and Tennis Centre, phone 01727 844250 - the normal Batchwood number which is being redirected to the Batchwood team which has set up an office at Westminster Lodge for the time being.