Church could become heart of industrial estate as new development reaches next stage

Artist's impression of the Heart of Maylands development featuring a relocated Adeyfield Free Church
Artist's impression of the Heart of Maylands development featuring a relocated Adeyfield Free Church

Plans to create a new ‘heart’ for Hemel Hempstead’s industrial estate are moving ever closer as planning permission is being sought for a church on Maylands Avenue.

Dacorum Borough Council’s development control committee can now consider plans for a relocated Adeyfield Free Church, which would see the congregation move from its 60-year home in Leverstock Green Road.

The proposed building has been designed by architects SUSD and would form a central part of the overall mixed-use residential and retail scheme developed by Hightown Praetorian and Churches Housing Association, whose headquarters are already in the estate, and Jarvis Homes.

Hightown and Jarvis are currently seeking planning permission for the scheme to create 130 one and two-bedroom apartments in two blocks.

Jarvis and 66 Books have also submitted a separate planning application for 62 private dwellings, a village green and a four-storey focal building directly behind the public square.

The development, dubbed the Heart of Maylands, aims to be a ‘vibrant hub’ featuring shops, cafés, restaurants, business services, community facilities, open space and access to public transport, in the hope of boosting existing businesses in the area as well as attracting new investments.

Hightown’s director of development George Edkins said: “These plans are a fine example of how Hightown is committed to rejuvenating Hemel Hempstead. We plan to build nearly 400 affordable homes over the next three years, including 86 on the site of the old Royal Mail sorting office on Park Lane, 37 around Bank Court in the town centre and 143 at Spencers Park, off Redbourn Road.

“We look forward to the Heart of Maylands becoming a vibrant hub for its residents and the employees, including ours, who work in the area.”

The church itself would, if planning permission is granted, house a wide range of community activities including a café, pre-school nursery, mum and tots group as well as regular church events.

Adeyfield Free Church’s Rev Pete Blackband said: “Our current site has been a great blessing to the local area for many decades, however for many years we have felt God calling the church to move to the Maylands area of Hemel.

“Maylands does not currently have a strong community focal point, so we are excited about the prospect of being able to provide this important area of our town with just that, and serve the many people who live and work in the area.”

Planning permission has already been granted to build 14 new houses on the church’s former site, should the new plans gain the necessary approvals.

A decision is expected by August 2014 with the hope that building work can start in March 2015.