St Albans: Plans to demolish city centre Alban Arena

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The Alban Arena which was built in 1968 is "not fit for purpose", council said

Plans to demolish an arena and replace it with a new entertainment venue and park are being drawn up.

St Albans City and District Council said the Alban Arena was "ageing" and needed major refurbishment or a rebuild.

Its proposals include two new buildings with "much-needed new housing and commercial space".

Councillor Robert Donald said the current arena was "not fit for purpose".

"It cannot, for example, stage some major touring productions as it does not have modern backstage facilities," he said.

The Arena, which opened in 1968 and was formerly known as the City Hall, seats 856 or 1,400 for shows with standing.

Image source, St Albans City and District Council
Image caption,
The plans were at the "feasibility stage" and more work will be undertaken on the vision

The new theatre would be built on the site of the Civic Centre car park while the central plaza would become a green space to "boost the environment", the council said.

The Rose Garden near the Civic Centre would also be "revitalised".

The authority said it would assess the environmental impact of demolishing the arena "including the carbon emissions involved".

Mr Donald said the council needed to plan for "the post-pandemic future".

"Shopping will not be the number one reason visitors come to our city centre," he said.

Image source, Alban Arena
Image caption,
Morecambe and Wise relax in their dressing room after gracing the City Hall stage

The authority has come up with two "unique selling points" for the city - the creation of a new park and improving cultural facilities to offer a wider range of events.

Mr Donald said demolishing the arena was advantageous as it could create a "much-larger sized space" with a city park, plaza and an underground car park.

The council's regeneration and business committee said it would run a design competition with the Royal Institute of British Architects for the new site.

It also said it would consult with residents as it was "a major change" to the city centre.

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