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Hemel to be given vote on Pavilion replacement

Hemel Hempstead people are to be given the chance to vote for the idea they would most like to replace the old Pavilion, which was pulled down by Dacorum Borough Council in 2002. 

A competition is being launched to find the best idea or concept for a sustainable community arts venue and will be open to architects and qualified individuals across Hemel Hempstead and Hertfordshire.

A shortlist of the best ideas will then be put to public vote and the winner will be submitted to Dacorum Borough Council who currently plan to use the former Pavilion site for new offices for councillors.

The competition is the brain child of Labour Parliamentary hopeful Tony Breslin, who is standing in this May’s General Election. The shortlisting panel will be chaired by prominent Hemel Hempstead solicitor, Kerry Underwood, who is well known to sports fans as a sponsor of the Tudors and local Rugby League team the Stags.

Kerry and Tony will be joined on the panel by local campaigners Carolyn Nicholls, who set up the Hemel Hempstead Hub Facebook page, and Mike Ridley, who along with Carolyn and his wife Christine, set up a petition, with over 1,000 signatures so far, calling for a multipurpose venue to replace the Pavilion instead of council plans for a multiplex cinema in the Market Square.

The competition will open on Monday February 23rd when invitations will be sent to members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) across in Hertfordshire. It will close on Friday March 27th and a shortlist will be put to a public vote via the Hemel Hempstead Hub Facebook page and other social media sites.

A joint submission will then be made to the council leader, Andrew Williams, asking for the Borough to respect the people’s choice and commission the winning architect to develop draft plans for consultation.

Tony Breslin said:

“As a candidate in the General Election the one issue that comes up time after time is that people want a new Pavilion. The Council promised they would rebuild it and then didn’t. Twelve years later they have announced plans for new offices on the space where so many great bands played and where so many Hemel couples met. David Bowie and Elton John would be turning in their sequins if they knew. Make no mistake, if I’m elected MP - no ifs, no buts - I will campaign hard for the kind of venue that will put the heart back into Hemel, and bring the town centre to life.”

Kerry Underwood said

“I’m delighted to head-up the shortlisting panel. A town the size of Hemel needs a police station, a court and an A&E and maternity unit and a team in the football league. It also needs a venue where people can come together and be part of a community. We’ll be looking for an idea that is sustainable, commercially viable and, above all, creative and reflective of the nature of the town.”

Mike Ridley said:

“This is a great initiative and we are happy to work with it because, along with our petition, it actually gives people a voice. The competition is subject to a popular vote it will take us one step closer to achieving our aim of a multifunctional venue that could host films, orchestras, bands, dance, theatre, business launches and community events in the heart of the town.”

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