Plans to rebuild a community centre move forward
A planning application to rebuild an ageing community centre in St Albans is to be submitted early next month.
The proposal is to demolish Marlborough Pavilion, off Cottonmill Lane, in Sopwell ward, and create an exciting new community hub.
Owner St Albans City and District Council has been consulting with a number of local groups on the major project.
Detailed plans have now been drawn up and will be submitted for approval to the Council’s planning department in early March.
The new centre will be completed by the end of March next year if all goes to schedule.
The new design includes a main hall of 100 square metres, a café, a kitchen suitable for providing event catering and Changing Places toilets.
There will also be wudu wash facilities for members of the Muslim community to carry out ablutions before prayer and a multi-faith quiet room for anyone to use for personal reflection or prayer.
It is envisaged the building will be used by a wide variety of local groups and host many different activities. This may include the scouts, youth groups, yoga and dance classes, play groups and lunch clubs as well as one-off events and celebrations.
Among new features will be a cycle hub and improvements to an outdoor BMX track beside the building.
The Council has consulted closely with a number of local groups about the plans including Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub (CaSH), the Sopwell Community Trust and the Verulam Cycling Club.
Capital funding for the project will come mainly from the Council’s own resources derived from the sale of new houses at its Leyland Avenue development.
Other bodies, including Sport England and British Cycling, have also been approached for grants. Further community contributions may be sought as well as needed.
Councillor Robert Donald, Portfolio Holder for Commercial and Development, said: “I’m sure Sopwell residents will be very pleased to know that our plans are so well advanced and we have now reached the crucial stage of submitting a planning application.
“While there has been talk of making improvements to the Pavilion for many years, I am delighted that we are now actually in a position to action doing just that.
“The Council has made it one of its main priorities to refurbish or redevelop existing community facilities and provide new ones where necessary. Marlborough Pavilion is the first of these facilities to benefit from this policy.
“Throughout this process, we have consulted with key community groups and we share their vision of creating a vibrant community hub that will be a great asset to Sopwell and the wider area.
“We will be realising the potential of this building to become a real centre of community activity, providing a base for many different local groups and interests and accessible for all to hire space for a wide range of functions and events.
“This will improve the social, sporting and leisure opportunities for people of all ages. Included in our plans is a cycling hub which is in keeping with another of the Council’s priorities to encourage green transport and active travel.
“It is intended this cycling hub will connect with existing nearby cycleways such as the Alban Way and the Green Ring.”
The Council has employed a diverse range of specialist consultants to deliver the project.
Picture: an artist’s impression of how the new community hub will look.