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Worry over St Albans' Pioneer Club's future
The home of a popular St Albans youth club is likely to be bulldozed to make way for houses leaving members with an “extremely insecure future”.
This comes after the news emerged Hertfordshire County Council plans to sell off the site of the former fire station just off of Harpenden Road in Heathlands Drive leaving Pioneer Club with an uncertain wait.
This comes as a blow for the Pioneer Club, a charity which currently uses the building as a skate park and music venue.
Ann Brooks, chairman of the Pioneer Club for four years, said it was a very difficult time.
She said: “It is very frustrating and this axe has been hanging over our heads for 20 years now.
“It doesn’t get any easier.
“We are pretty much in the dark because we don’t know what is going to happen.
“One minute to the next, it changes. Running a charity out of a building we know will be bulldozed and won’t be here in a few years’ time is very difficult.
“If the county council doesn’t re-provide for us, we will lose our base to run our charity from. We are not sure what the future holds.”
It is thought the land will be sold to developers for houses on the previous Ariston Works site, as part of the county council’s long term plan to introduce more affordable housing.
A public exhibition of the council’s proposals for the site is due to be held next month, while bids for the site from prospective buyers will be reviewed from November. The future of the site has been a controversial issue since the fire station was closed several years ago, attracting campaigners who have fought to protect the lower field which is part of the land being sold by the county council. There has also been a fight to protect the future of local clubs renting premises on the site.
However, St Albans Judo Club is being relocated within the redeveloped Batchwood Sports Centre, and St Albans Ambulance Station along with the Connexions youth club, will also be re-provided for by the county council.
Ms Brooks said: “We have a lot of friends and people here who want us to carry on doing what we do and that is offering a place for youths in St Albans.
“We are reassured people want us to remain on site so we are hopeful the county council will re-provide for us.
“However, when push comes to shove we don’t know what the future really holds.”
Ms Brooks added the Pioneer Club has organised a festival event named Lovestock due to take place on Saturday, August 31.
She said: “This event will show everyone despite all the shenanigans we are still here and we will just keep on going.”
Councillor Geoffrey Harrison, who is also a trust member on the Pioneer Club board, said he was disappointed.
He said: “The future of the site is extremely insecure. This is an internationally renowned site in St Albans which is a place for talented skaters and musicians.
“The skate park has brought well-renowned skaters to St Albans as well as helping to create talented skaters.
“There isn’t another venue in the county that provides a music venue for young people like this one. “The county council should make provisions to make sure Pioneer is protected. It is an extremely valuable asset that we can’t afford to lose.”
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