Concept designs unveiled for new leisure, arts and cultural centres in Harpenden

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News release: 07 February 2017

Give your views on the current concept designs for new leisure, arts and cultural facilities being developed in Harpenden by St Albans City and District Council.

Architect's impression of new leisure centre in Harpenden

The Council is planning to transform Harpenden Swimming Pool into one integrated leisure centre suitable for a variety of activities and sports. It is also looking at turning the adjacent sports centre into a modern arts and culture facility. These facilities will serve people in Harpenden, Redbourn, Wheathampstead and the surrounding area.

Stakeholders, including sports clubs, arts and cultural societies, gym users, local residents and councillors, have helped influence the current concept designs. Late last year, they were invited to briefing sessions and a charette-style design workshop, hosted by independent facilitators.

Feedback from these sessions as well as the commercial viability of the facility mix, anticipated demand and the budget, have shaped the current concept designs.

Residents can now give their views on the current concept designs by completing an online questionnaire or by emailing harpendenleisureandculture@stalbans.gov.uk by 3 March 2017. The designs and questionnaire are available online.

The current concept designs will also be presented and discussed at two public meetings. These will take place on Wednesday, 15 February and Thursday 16 February at Park Hall, Leyton Road, Harpenden, from 6.30pm to 9pm.

The concept designs for the new leisure centre involve extending the Harpenden Swimming Pool building. This will provide space for a larger learner pool with a moveable depth floor, alongside a refurbished main pool. There will also be a new sports hall and a gym with more than 160 stations, almost three times as many as the current sports centre. The designs include wet and dry changing facilities, three dance studios, a café and a crèche.

The concept designs for the new arts and culture facility provide, for a larger theatre than currently exists at Harpenden Public Halls, with up to 500 seats. There will also be meeting rooms, activity spaces, a cultural and heritage exhibition space, as well as bars on two floors and a refreshments area.

Many ideas were explored with stakeholders during the briefing sessions and a design workshop. Some have been taken forward and/or adapted for the current designs. These include:

• Creating new main entrances for the two new centres from Rothamsted Park.
• Providing a landscaped, first-floor ramp and bridge access entrance for the new arts and leisure centre.
• Improving access and landscaping to Rothamsted Park from Amenbury Lane car park.
• Increasing car and cycling parking facilities in the location between the current pool building and a new and all-weather artificial football pitch.
• Developing a main theatre for more than 500 people in the new arts and cultural centre, using partly retractable seating to provide for flexibility.
• Creating a larger learner pool with a movable depth floor to address the needs of many young learners.
• Creating a viewing gallery at the new leisure centre with seating for spectators of all ages and abilities.
• Providing an attractive public café overlooking Rothamsted Park.

Cllr Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage at St Albans City and District Council, said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop new leisure, arts and cultural facilities for people living in Harpenden and the north of the District. It is therefore important that as many people as possible have the opportunity to give their thoughts and ideas on the new facilities. As part of an ongoing collaborative design process, the Council initially consulted stakeholders, including users and local residents. We are grateful for their ideas and local knowledge which has helped us develop the current concept designs. We are now inviting everyone to comment on these designs. Please take the time to look at them and to fill in the short online questionnaire giving your views.”

Feedback from the questionnaires will inform the detailed designs that will be produced as part of the planning application, due to be submitted later this year. There will be a separate consultation on those designs as part of the planning application process.

The Council is also proposing to develop Harpenden Public Halls once the new arts and cultural facility is available. This will contribute towards paying for the new leisure and cultural facilities. The Council expects to use a similar collaborative design process for this development nearer to that time.

Upgrading leisure, arts and cultural facilities across the District is a key priority for the Council. 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.

More information about the planned redevelopment of leisure, arts and cultural facilities for Harpenden is available online.

Councillor contact:
Cllr Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage at St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01438 832255
Email: cllr.a.brewster@stalbans.gov.uk

Contact for the media:
Amanda Wilkinson,
Senior Communications Officer
St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819317
E-mail: amanda.wilkinson@stalbans.gov.uk
www.stalbans.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StAlbansCouncil

Architect’s impressions:

Above - new leisure centre
Architect's impression of new arts centre in Harpenden

New arts and cultural centre

Architect's impression of new leisure and arts centres in Harpenden

New leisure centre and new arts and cultural centre