Competition launched to design Pavilion replacement that will be too good to turn down

Hemel Hempstead Pavilion 1965.
Hemel Hempstead Pavilion 1965.

A competition is being launched to see yet another design for a replacement Pavilion drawn up but this time campaigners hope it will be ‘irresistible’ to town planners.

The contest - open to architects and others qualified in building design - aims to find the best idea or concept for a sustainable community arts venue.

The Jewel.

The Jewel.

Since the Pavilion was demolished in 2002 several designs for a replacement have been commissioned by Dacorum Borough Council but these never came to fruition.

Now, when the idea of replacing the venue has been scrapped altogether by council chiefs, a public-run competition is being launched.

It is the brainchild of Labour MP hopeful Tony Breslin, who hopes the contest will bring forth a design that is impossible for the council to turn down.

He said: “Make no mistake, if I’m elected MP - no ifs, no buts - I will make sure we have the kind of venue that people are asking for – somewhere that will put the heart back into Hemel, and bring the town centre to life.”

The Pavilion before it was demolished and never replaced

The Pavilion before it was demolished and never replaced

The land where the Pavilion previous stood is now earmarked for a public service quarter under regeneration plans, which will house council staff, library, police and other community facilities.

Despite this Mr Breslin is driving forward with the competition, on the back of a recent community petition to bring back a Pavilion-type facility, which has attracted more than 1,000 signatures.

He said: “We are not talking about an expensive pie in the sky project that we are asking the council to empty its coffers on.

“I’m confident that any council worth its salt when it sees the ideas that come forward will not only commission the full planning process but will want it.

“We are confident that we will get irresistible proposals emerging from this competition.

“I have not been backwards in coming forward on this. I’m nailing my colours very strongly to a campaign for a new Pavilion and if that campaign is unsuccessful or it doesn’t deliver what people want, or I don’t deliver, it is my neck that is on the chopping board.

“We are on doorsteps throughout the week and during the weekend and one of the things that keeps coming back to us is the Pavilion.”

Entries will be shortlisted by a panel, which includes petition founders Carolyn Nicholls and Mike Ridley, before being put to the public vote through social media.

The competition will open on Monday, March 2 and entry details are due to be announced later this week.

The winning design will be put to council leader Andrew Williams requesting that the council commissions the designer to develop his or her draft plans.

Mike said: “This 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.”