As one major town centre development hits the buffers another long awaited boost for Hemel Hempstead is finally getting underway.
An £8.5m deal has seen the dilapidated Jarman Park site handed over by Capital and Regional to Tesco Pensions Trust and now workmen have moved in to start the internal strip down.
It’s been a long time coming with the bold plans for LeisureWorld – better known as Wally World to some – first revealed in December 2011. The announcement came in the wake of a series of shut downs on the site including drinking venues and bowling alley Hot Shots.
Back then the work was expected to get under way during the following summer.
Then there were plans to retain the ice rink but that now hangs in the balance despite a campaign by users of Planet Ice to save the facility.
That’s something that Tesco Pensions Trust hopes to clear up within the next few weeks once crucial meetings have taken place.
For now Planet Ice continues to operate from the site, despite the surrounding works, after being given a stay of execution.
In the meantime a Tesco Pensions Trust spokesman said: “We are really excited about the chance to provide a great new facility for the community. Internal strip out works have started on site and we hope that most of the work will be finished by the autumn.
“We continue to work closely with the council and will keep local people informed as the plans progress.”
Among the restaurants lined up to move in are popular chicken eatery Nandos, American diner Coast To Coast, Mexican restaurant and bar Chiquito, Frankie and Benny’s and pub chain the Hungry Horse.
The Empire multiplex cinema, where business also continues as normal, has just applied for a licence to sell alcohol to film fans all week long from 9am to 3am. It is proposed that the sale of alcohol will be limited to one drink per customer and from time to time screens may be hired out for private showings or presentations.
Dacorum Borough Council’s licensing committee will decide whether permission is granted.
Last week the Gazette reported that supermarket Morrisons had pulled out of plans for a complete overhaul of land where the council’s Civic Centre now stands in Marlowes.
The firm said the store was not viable without a petrol station, which has been blocked under new environmental rules because drinking water for the town is drawn from below the site.
It leaves the deal up in the air with council chiefs admitting that it’s unlikely that another supermarket chain will want to take on the site, with housing a more likely use for the land.