Around ten to 12 social homes are to be built as part of a major development, subject to planning approval.

St Albans District Council has plans to redevelop the Public Halls in Southdown Road, Harpenden, and following public consultation, housing and commercial space seems to be the preferred option.

After a weekend of engagement run by an independent expert, public opinion showed that 1,640m² is to be earmarked for housing and 900m² for commercial space.

Of the housing space, 40 per cent will be set aside for social housing which on current estimates will provide between ten to 12 properties.

The rest will be used to build homes for sale to private buyers with this expected to generate around £5.5m. The business premises will be rented out to provide long-term income for the council.

In addition, the designs allow for 60 underground car parking spaces, a courtyard within the development and a public square on the Common side. A public footpath, running through the site from the Common to Arden Grove, is also included.

At a council cabinet meeting on Thursday, members agreed the development is financially viable and gave its approval. The next stage is to draw up detailed plans and then submit a planning application.

Cllr Robert Donald, responsible for property, commercial and development, said: "With more than 700 households on our social housing register waiting for somewhere to live, it is important that we provide as much social housing for rent as possible across our district.

"The Public Halls had reached the end of their life and I am confident that with community support we are well on the way to producing a high-quality development on the site. We will continue to consult with the community as the plans are developed."

A new cultural centre is being built in Rothamsted Park to replace the Public Halls but the council needs the £5.5m to help fund the new centre.

The new cultural centre, due to open in early 2021, is being built on the site of the Rothamsted Park sport centre. It will include a 511-seat theatre, two function rooms, an exhibition space, bars on two floors and a café overlooking the park.

The adjacent swimming pool building is being extended and refurbished to create a new leisure centre. This will include an improved main pool, a five-lane learner pool, a sports hall, gym, sauna, steam room and café.