Construction underway for new Harpenden sports and cultural centres
PUBLISHED: 14:52 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:52 16 May 2019
A temporary sports building will be set up in Harpenden while work is underway on the new leisure and cultural centres.
Work recently began on an £18.8 million sport and cultural centre in Rothamsted Centre, which will include an extended swimming pool, a multi-sports centre and a 511-seat theatre.
The temporary structure will be open from March next year, and will be in place until both centres open in January 2021. This has allowed St Albans District Council to save around £0.5 million and means the project will be completed six months ahead of schedule.
According to the council, the temporary building will be "of the highest standard" and will contain a fully-equipped gym, two exercise studios, a creche, changing rooms and a reception area. Providing planning permission is obtained, it will be built next to the existing sports centre in Rothamsted Park.
Wherever possible, sports centre users are not expected to lose out on classes during the construction work. The sports hall will close from November this year while it is converted into a theatre, but trampolining, badminton and gymnastics will be held at Batchwood Sports Centre in St Albans until the new leisure centre opens.
The existing swimming pool building is being transformed into the multi-sports centre, which will include a larger gym, a main pool, a five-lane learner pool, a sports hill, changing village, steam room, sauna, café and reception area.
As well as the theatre, the new cultural centre will have two function rooms, an exhibition space, bars on two floors and a café overlooking the park.
Richard Shwe, the council's deputy chief executive for commercial and development, said: "Disruption to sports centre users will be minimal and I want to assure them that the temporary building will be fitted and furnished to the highest standard.
"I'm aware of some local concern that the temporary building will be a flimsy Portakabin, but that couldn't be further from the case. It will be a high-quality amenity.
"Shortly we will be applying for planning permission for the temporary structure. I hope that it will be granted so we can push on and provide Harpenden and the surrounding areas with fantastic new sport and cultural centres."