Speaker’s Corner: Town’s regeneration is investing in our future

Andrew Williams
Andrew Williams

It’s now over two months since we heard that Morrison’s had decided not to continue with their plans for a new store in Hemel Hempstead.

And if you had read some of the coverage of this news, you could be forgiven for thinking that this had effectively stopped the plans for the refurbishment work in our town.

Well, it certainly has not. While it is disappointing, Dacorum Borough Council is continuing with all the other exciting projects to help rejuvenate the town centre.

Plans are continuing for the new public service quarter. The timetable for this remains unchanged, but of course we will now stay in our current Civic Centre on Marlowes until the new building is ready.

Not only will this avoid the upheaval of moving to temporary accommodation; it will also save on cost.

We have submitted our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund - Big Lottery to restore the Water Gardens, and expect to hear if we’ve been successful in July.

This is a very important part of Hemel town centre which, once refurbished to Geoffrey Jellicoe’s original designs, will provide a very welcoming and relaxing space for residents and visitors.

The phase of work in the Marlowes pedestrian zone is also on course to start in the autumn.

After some disappointing delays, the main work will complete this week on the Old Town High Street. I’m sure that anyone who has visited recently will agree that it now looks very smart.

Work is also underway to bring the downstairs Cellar bar back into use at the Old Town Hall, our arts and entertainment venue.

To launch its re-opening and celebrate the completion of the High Street, we’re organising a day of entertainment for all the family on Saturday July 19. So please put this date in your diary and look out for details nearer the time.

Another area undergoing change is the heart of Maylands, where readers may have noticed hoarding going up around two sites recently. Proposals for new shops, offices and homes will revitalise the area.

The Maylands Business Park is the largest in the East of England. It is home to over 600 businesses and employs more than 18,500 people.

It continues to enjoy high levels of occupation with the vast majority of floorspace let.

These new developments will help to strengthen the area as a destination of choice for businesses both large and small.

I’m conscious that much of what I have mentioned in this column recently has been about Hemel Hempstead.

Hemel is the Borough’s major shopping and business area and we’re investing in improvements that will boost the local economy to benefit the whole of Dacorum.

It’s an exciting time to live and work in Dacorum, and I hope you’ll help me spread the news beyond our borough and help visitors to also enjoy what we’ve got to offer.

You can email leader Andrew Williams at andrew.williams@dacorum.gov.uk