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Harebreaks Community Hub 'has a dazzling future' says Tina Barnard, chief executive of Watford Community Housing Trust
Dance and community groups started using the newly revamped Harebreaks Community Centre this weekend.
The centre reopened as the Harebreaks Community Hub with a performance from the Dan Tien Performing Arts School, which will now be using the building.
The renovation comes after the centre was at the heart of a drawn-out dispute between its owners, Watford Borough Council and the charity Age UK Hertfordshire.
The row between the charity and the council came about over a £500,000 repairs bill for the building and another in Exchange Road.
However it was settled in 2011 and last year the Local Government Ombudsman cleared the council of any wrong-doing in the affair.
In the meantime Watford Community Housing Trust secured a 20 year lease on the centre, in The Harebreaks, and under took a £200,000 renovation of the building with money from the Better Communities Fund.
The fund is a £9m grant from Watford Borough Council to the trust when it took over the authority’s housing stock in 2007.
Since the revamp, The Dan Tien has moved into the ground floor of the building and contributed to the cost of it being specially fitted out as a performing arts space.
The trust said the Watford Deaf Club will continue to use the centre.
Following the opening, Tina Barnard, chief executive of Watford Community Housing Trust, said: "It’s been a fantastic day and it’s wonderful to see the space buzzing with so many people. We want this to be a space where the local community can come together and that’s exactly what’s happened today.
"Harebreaks Community Hub has a dazzling future and The Dan Tien couldn’t have given us a better start."
Dorothy Thornhill, Elected Mayor of Watford, added: "Well done to the Trust for getting this community hub back into action again.
"I had a great time on Saturday at the opening - all the Dan Tien dancers performed brilliantly and I'm sure they're going to enjoy using their new studios, and local residents will be pleased to have this great community space on their doorstep."