‘Our ailing town centre needs a new purpose’

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Council bosses have laid the groundwork for improvements to Hemel Hempstead town centre worth potentially £3 million.

The work covers repaving the pedestrianised area of Marlowes, new lighting and street furniture, a new bus station and ‘greening’ of the ramp.

The project follows the creation of a ‘food court’ outside Boots and a shake-up in the market, which will see new standardised stalls in a fresh layout brought in over the winter.

A meeting of Dacorum Borough Council’s Conservative cabinet on Tuesday agreed the employment of consultants to finalise the scope of the scheme and a construction company to take the work forward.

A report to councillors says: “The available budget for improvements scheduled over the next three years is approximately £3,000,000.

“The remaining phase of works is substantial.”

But Labour councillor Keith White said £3 million was ‘a fraction of what has been promised for more than 10 years’.

“It’s hard to complain about any improvement to the town centre – it’s been crying out for it for a long time – but we have spent a lot of time talking about grand schemes, none of which has happened,” he said. “What we actually need is something a bit more radical that’s going to bring in new business and give the town centre a new purpose.”