Local News

Critics denounce new leisure centre's "industrial" design

Sunday 20 October 2019

Local groups have lined up to criticise the design of the new leisure centre planned for Hartham Common.

The new building will replace the existing single-storey gym and reception adjoining the swimming pool.

In their response to the council's recent planning application to redevelop the site, Hertford Civic Society wrote: "the proposed addition is utilitarian, dour and stark, and more suited to an industrial estate than open parkland surroundings."

The Society's comments continued: "The loss of nine trees, though described as not significant in the application documents, makes matters worse.

"We submit that to preserve the parkland setting there should be a lot more tree-planting and soft landscaping; the suggestion that the elevations should be exposed and not be softened by landscaping is rubbing salt into the wound.

Hertford Town Council were equally scathing: "The design is not suited to the green finger of Hartham and the characteristics of the area.

"The design does nothing to reflect the open space and woodland environment. It fails to enhance the characteristic of the conservation area and ignores the openness of the greenbelt."

The town council's Planning Sub-committe also commented: "The Committee expressed concern regarding the planned changes to limit the use of the swimming pool which will no longer be able to be used for scuba diving, life saving training and water polo."

Bengeo residents currently steering a new Neighbourhood Plan for the area were also critical, sayting: "We have concerns about the exterior design of the proposed extension. Although the glass atrium would offer views through to the Common, the proposed exterior cladding, shape and appearance of the double height extension seem more suited to an industrial site than to Hartham, with its thousand-year heritage and Green Belt setting. We understand that timber cladding and mitigation planting were considered but rejected."

Many of the comments made by individual members of the public were also critical of the new building.

The £7m redevelopment has been designed by Cambridge architects Saunders Boston for Willmott Dixon on behalf of East Herts Council (Leisure Services Directorate).


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