'Minor setback' to community hub plan for Henderson Memorial Hall in Abbots Langley

'Minor setback' to community hub plan

'Minor setback' to community hub plan

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Plans to turn an Abbots Langely hall into a community hub are moving ahead, despite a "temporary setback" which has seen the application to install a cafe withdrawn.

An application was submitted to Three Rivers District Council to turn Henderson Memorial Hall, in the High Street, into a performing arts centre and exhibition space.

The district council awarded a £25,000 grant to the Henderson Hub Company last month, allowing the first stage of the renovations project to progress.

Proposals were put forward to the council to partly change the use of the public hall, which is more than 100-years-old, into a cafe.

Simon Ash, the Hub’s project manager, said the application to install a cafe is vital to plans to make the hall a central part of the community.

Mr Ash said: "To our plan this is absolutely central. We are very conscious of the fact that there are other people in business on the High Street, but the feedback from most who we have spoken to is that this is what they want.

"The arts are our primary objective, but central to our making a success of the hub is providing a community business to support it.

"We’re certainly not trying to compete with restaurants and having this space in the village is absolutely essential."

Mr Ash said the "temporary setback" of the application being withdrawn was due to a "technical error" with one of the forms.

He said campaigners have re-submitted the amended application and are hopeful it will bring them one step closer to attaining the community hub.

However, concerns have been raised about what the possibility of a new cafe in Abbots Langley could do to existing businesses.

Barrie Irvine, of Hempstead Road, said he is worried about what the addition of a cafe in the hall might mean for retailers.

Mr Irvine, 75, said: "There are two cafes in the village already. Is it right that a public asset should be set dog against dog with a local business in a small and lovely high street like Abbots Langley?"

"I love the village, and, being a retired shop owner who used to be in the high street, I think it will disturb the balance in the village."

Mr Ash said he wanted to assure people that the group are not intending these renovations to impact on local businesses. Rather, he said the Hub hopes it will draw more visitors to the area and keep the community thriving.

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