Building work on a new £18.8 million sport and cultural centre is to start next month.

Planning permission was granted last year by St Albans Council to extend the swimming pool building in Rothamsted Park and transform it into a multi-sports leisure centre.

The existing sports centre, situated close to the pool, will be converted into a cultural centre with a 511-seat theatre.

Harpenden Public Halls, the town’s main entertainment venue, will also close in early 2021.

Works begin mid-April and the main and learner pools will be closed from April 29 for four weeks and the new theatre will be named after comic legend Eric Morecombe.

The main pool will reopen on May 27 and remain so until May 2020. The learner pool will remain closed throughout the rest of the construction period.

Councillor Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport and Culture, said: “We have delivered three new leisure centres in the District over the last six years which is quite an achievement.

“We are delighted to be building a fourth to cater for Harpenden and the villages in the north of the District.

“In this case, we are not only creating a fantastic new sports centre with a wide range of facilities, but we are also creating a new arts and cultural centre.

“Harpenden Public Halls has served the town well for many decades, but it was beginning to show signs of age.

“The new cultural centre, which will include an amazing theatre named after Harpenden legend Eric Morecambe, will be a great improvement.”