No plans for new Pavilion in town

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A £25m performing arts centre has been dropped from 10-year redevelopment plans for Hemel Hempstead town centre.

The venue was originally intended to replace the Pavilion – known fondly as the Pav, which was controversially demolished in 2002.

But it will no longer be part of a scheme to regenerate the town centre – which includes making the High Street through its Old Town one-way.

At a meeting of Dacorum Borough Council on Wednesday, portfolio holder for planning and regeneration Terry Douris said a new venue would be unnecessary.

Hemel Hempstead already has the Old Town Hall, he said.

He said: “I know well known comedians who have worked their shows there. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for a lot of people.”

He said that there are already perfectly good theatres for people to visit in Aylesbury, Watford, High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Rickmansworth and Dunstable – ‘all within 15 minutes’ drive’.

He said: “It would be foolish for us to spend a large amount of money like the £47 million a neighbouring authority spent.

“We did not sell our council housing to do that, which is what a lot of the others did.”

But Nick Hollinghurst, who represents the Lib Dem opposition on the Tory-majority council, said: “You mentioned a list of venues available to the citizens of this borough for entertainment.

“The Old Town is very good, but it has limited capacity. All the other venues are available only by car, because the public transport is so poor.

“In the absence of our own large capacity venue, can I ask that we contribute to bus transport in the evenings so people without cars can access these venues?” He called for the council to subsidise the transport.

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