A new era for public services began in Hemel Hempstead today (January 16) when a £15m home for Dacorum Borough Council officially opened.
The Forum, a new hub which will also house voluntary services and a new library, is a key feature of the council’s Hemel Evolution scheme which is redeveloping the town centre.
Work has now been completed on the 75,000 sq ft building, which has been constructed over the last year and a half by building firm R G Carter.
The temporary Hemel Hempstead Library, located in the old Civic Centre, closed for the final time on Sunday – while Dacorum Borough Council vacated the same building on Friday.
Both have now moved to the new hub, which is next door on the corner of Marlowes and Combe Street, with the council’s voluntary partners moving in at the end of January.
The Forum is expected to save taxpayers £300,000 in annual running costs, and remove the need for upkeep on the Civic Centre, which was built back in the 1960s.
Councillor Andrew Williams, leader of Dacorum Borough Council, said: “The Forum is all about welcoming the public in and helping residents access services more easily under one roof.
“It’s an inspiring place to visit – as well as creating a striking landmark at the northern end of town.”
The new building has been designed to be energy efficient, with rooftop solar panels enabling it to generate its own power, while water for toilets and heating is supplied by rainwater held in an underground reservoir.
The new library makes full use of the bigger space it now occupies, providing more books and resources, including public computers, wi-fi, and reading and study areas – as well as being designed flexibly to allow for community events.
It will also see the launch of Hertfordshire’s second CreatorSpace, which brings together creativity and digital technology.
The space will encourage people to experiment with digital making and learning. It will feature a 3D printer, iMac computers, audio and video editing software, tablet computers; digital embroidery sewing machines and Raspberry Pi kits for use with young people’s coding clubs.
Teresa Heritage, cabinet member for public health, localism and libraries at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “We have listened to residents who told us that they wanted their libraries to be vibrant, welcoming and capable of delivering a modern service.
“We are really excited about the new Hemel Hempstead library, including the launch of the new CreatorSpace facility – which will give people the chance to try out new technology in the comfort of their local library.”