Gardens could be ‘catalyst for town’s revival’

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CABINET finance chief at Dacorum Borough Council Nick Tiley says renovating Hemel Hempstead’s Water Gardens should be ‘actively pursued’ when the cash is available.

Councillor Tiley says he agrees they look ‘untidy and unappealing’ but the challenge is finding the resources to restore them since the collapse of the Waterhouse Square regeneration project last year.

“What went wrong with the town centre planning of Hemel Hempstead from those wonderful plans in the ’40s and ’50s was the government never finished the job,” he said. “Those elaborate Water Gardens were never built. What was put there was a cheaper alternative.

“Waterhouse Square was saying turn the town round and have quite a few public buildings facing the river. In these economic times that sort of expenditure is not going to be sustainable.

“We have to find another solution to that. I agree with the public who say it looks very untidy and unappealing. It’s an opportunity we should not let go but actively pursue it when we have the resources.”

Mr Tiley has spoken out following criticism of the Water Gardens by renowned landscape designers.

Labour group leader Keith White said: “It could be a feature that could help make Hemel Hempstead more of a destination. The Water Gardens could be the catalyst to revitalise the town centre.”