Town’s million-pound revamp is shaping up

A willow tree in the Water Gardens, which is undergoing a major refurbishment project
A willow tree in the Water Gardens, which is undergoing a major refurbishment project

The multi-million pound work on Hemel’s famous Water Gardens and new building The Forum is gathering pace.

Contractors Casey are working hard to recreate Geoffrey Jellicoe’s original vision for the town’s ‘garden within a city’, while construction firm RG Carter are building new community hub The Forum on the corner of Combe Street and the Marlowes.

David Fenwick, RG Carter project manager, said the 75,000 square foot building will be structurally complete by October, ready for contractors to swoop in and fit the 
interior ahead of opening to the public early next year.

In a tour of the purpose-built, energy efficient building, The Gazette saw first hand the workmanship and hi-tech systems that are being fitted in the shell of a building that Dacorum Borough Council hopes will become the hub for Hemel.

Natural light pours in from a covered central atrium, and an intelligent automated 
lighting system will eliminate the need for switches – saving on electricity costs.

A cutting-edge heating and cooling system is being installed to ensure the vast building will be warm in winter and cool in summer, again coining a saving on energy bills.

Rainwater will be collected and recycled to provide enough water to flush all the toilets on each floor, making The Forum more eco-friendly.

But there is even quicker progress being made in the town’s Water Gardens, first created by landscape architect Geoffrey Jellicoe in 1959.

To many, it may look like the waterside is in muddy chaos, but the foundations are being laid by contractors Casey for an outdoor space to be used by the whole community.

Claire Covington, Dacorum Borough Council’s project officer overseeing the Water Garden’s £3.6million revamp, said: “The gardens are really very special and are regarded nationally as an in tact representation of Jellicoe’s work.

“There are up to 20 people on site each day, laying the foundations for the footpaths, digging the bridge foundations, and preparing for planting in the flower garden.”

Currently, a green screen of ivy leaves is being installed to hide the nearby car park, as well as encourage wildlife.

Watch this space for regular updates on the work at both The Forum and the Water Gardens as and when they happen.