LeisureWorld revamp spells last flume ride

Artist's impression of plans for LeisureWorld in Hemel Hempstead.
Artist's impression of plans for LeisureWorld in Hemel Hempstead.

PLANS to overhaul LeisureWorld with the introduction of eight new restaurants have been given the go-ahead.

Talks are understood to be taking place with brands including Nando’s, Frankie and Benny’s, Chiquito, Bella Italia and Caribbean eaterie Turtle Bay.

A meeting of Dacorum Borough Council’s development control committee agreed the £4 million plans, though they controversially include the loss of Aquasplash.

Councillors took the decision despite hearing 145,000 people use the facility each year and 5,000 people signed a petition against its loss.

There is also a covenant protecting facilities on the site for 25 years from its 1995 opening, but a report to councillors says this ‘does not have an impact on the consideration of a planning application’.

Meanwhile, the Gazette has learned The Arena Group – which owns Aquasplash and Planet Ice – has gone into administration, though the businesses are continuing to operate.

Councillor John Whitman, regarding Aquasplash, said: “It has always been popular. To put eight restaurants there is overdevelopment. We have got to listen to the people of this town – they want to keep it. I think it should be promoted, not knocked down.”

The changes – bringing around 200 jobs – also include a new frontage, a cinema, bowling alley, ice rink, children’s play area and gym, which could be run by Sportspace. Work is expected to start this summer.

The council owns the site but it is being run on a lease by property firm Capital & Regional, which says the loss of Aquasplash is necessary to make the scheme viable.