Extra cash has been released to spend on Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town Hall arts venue after the bill for the regeneration project turned out to be higher than expected.
Dacorum Borough Council’s cabinet agreed to reallocate £450,000 set aside for phase two of the scheme so that it can be splashed out on the first stage of the works, due to get under way in the new year.
Phase one – originally expected to cost between £90,000 and £100,000 – involves the redevelopment of the Gallery Bar and the reopening of The Cellar, including installing a lift to allow for disabled access.
During a meeting of the council’s cabinet Councillor Neil Harden said: “This is really exciting and is turning our Old Town Hall into a 21st century venue.
“I have heard reports from the community that they are really excited that The Cellar is coming back.”
The Cellar Club – expected to bring in an extra £10,000 each year – will host comedy nights, jazz, rock and indie music nights and will be available for private hire.
But the costs of the first stage of the project have come in higher than expected due to unforeseen works including renewing the mains electrical supply, damp proofing the basement, fire proofing and upgrading drainage.
The £700,000 project is part of a bid to attract investment and footfall to the Old Town. Phase two of the work involves redeveloping the colonnade area, for which external funding may be sought.