‘Jewel in the crown’ to get £700,000 overhaul

Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead.
Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead.

THE Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead should be lit up at night to make the most of the ‘jewel in the crown’.

Other ideas for the theatre include glassing in the ‘cloisters’ area for a cafe and increasing the size of the bar.

A budget of £700,000 has been set aside to make improvements to the historic venue, with a view to drawing more people to the old town and boosting the economy.

A meeting of Dacorum Borough Council’s housing and community scrutiny committee was told the ‘old town renaissance’ was a ‘priority project’.

Councillor Suqlain Mahmood said: “I think it’s a very nice building and we need to keep it as an asset for the town. To me it’s the jewel in the crown. I think we should talk to people and ask for a contribution to improve the Old Town Hall. I wonder if we can get the local business community involved?

“When you drive past it, half the time you don’t know it’s there. What about some uplighting or coloured lighting to brighten up the place?”

The project includes installing a lift to the cellar and extending the gallery bar, which gets so full at intervals theatre-goers instead go to nearby pubs. Critics also say the venue’s seats need improving.

Work is expected to begin next year but a report says finding a commercial operator for a new café is ‘extremely unlikely’.

Committee chairman Janice Marshall said: “My gut reaction is the colonnade area we should defer until economic times are better.”

The committee’s views will be passed to cabinet chief for residents and regulatory services Councillor Neil Harden, who will make the final decision.