The St Albans Branch of the Royal British Legion has been handed a lifeline as the hall that it operates from, which faced closure last year, has been made a community asset.

The owners of Mitchell Hall in Verulam Road will not be able to sell it without notifying St Albans District Council. If it comes up for sale, community groups have six weeks to express an interest in it and then a further six months to submit a bid to acquire the asset.

This comes after Verulam Road Residents Association nominated the hall for protection after the RBL headquarters announced proposals to sell off the site in November last year.

Mitchell Hall is home to the city’s branch to provide help and assistance to ex-service personnel and their families, since 1921.

Don Dell, chairman of the St Albans branch, said: "This is good news because it means the hall is now for the community and we have a say in what happens to it.

"It is now our base and we can’t just be chucked out.  Mitchell Hall will carry on as it is.
"We have had growing interest from the community in this hall and having it as a community asset makes the foreseeable future stable."

Mitchell Hall is named after the Rev B E F Mitchell, who donated the premises to St Albans British Legion in trust in 1936.

However, since then, the trust was transferred from the St Albans Branch to the Legion’s headquarters, now the owners of the property.

Mitchell Hall is one of the first building to be listed as a community asset by the council under the Localism Act 2011.

The others include:

•Keith Clegg Garden, off New House Park, St Albans - nominated by Whitecroft and Meadowcroft Residents Association. This is a landscaped memorial garden created in remembrance of former Mayor Keith Clegg and contains benches for public use.

•Butterfield Playing Fields and Nature Reserve at Old School Drive, Wheathampstead - nominated by Wheathampstead Parish Council. The open space is accessible to the public for a variety of social and community uses.

•Hitchin allotments in Marford Road Wheathampstead - nominated by Wheathampstead Parish Council. The land is available to the community to grow food, helping to further social wellbeing and sustainability.

•Wadley Hut at Old School Drive, Wheathampstead - nominated by Verulam Residents Association. The building is used by the Scouts and also let out to the community for events.

•Bedmond Lane Field, St Albans - nominated by Verulam Residents Association. This is open land with a public footpath running through it.