Plans for new community hub make major progress
Plans to revamp an ageing community centre in the Sopwell ward of 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.
The owners, St Albans City and District Council, want to improve the building and has been working with a number of community groups on the initiative.
These include the Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub, the Sopwell Community Trust and the Verulam Cycling Club.
Following discussions, it has been agreed that the Pavilion could be expanded to include a café, additional hall space and a cycle hub.
An architectural firm was appointed to undertake a concept design for the whole building including the proposed new features.
A report on the scheme’s progress was made to the Council’s Cabinet at its meeting on Thursday 23 January. 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 is to be appointed to design improvements to an existing BMX track as well as other new facilities.
Various external companies will be required to carry out essential technical surveys of the building and the site.
This work will help determine whether the project is financially viable and prepare the ground for any necessary planning applications.
Councillor Robert Donald, Portfolio Holder for Commercial and Development, said after the meeting:
The Council has been talking about making improvements to the Marlborough Pavilion for about nine years now. One of the Administration’s key aims is to improve the District’s community facilities and Sopwell is an area of the city where public requests for such increased provision has been strongly expressed to ward Councillors.
We have now identified how these improvements can be funded and as a result have been able to agree the necessary preliminary work required to enable Cabinet to decide if there is a robust business case for this redevelopment to proceed and if so what the best options are for its development.
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.
The improvement of the cycling facilities could greatly benefit Verulam Cycling Club, visiting cycle groups and individual recreational cyclists. This leisure and health aspect of the project is very much in keeping with our commitment to encourage green transport and environmental sustainability.