Removing asbestos from the Alban Arena will cost almost £250,000, the district council has revealed.

The closure of the St Albans city centre venue led to the cancellation of last Christmas' pantomime, as well as the postponement of all events in January and February.

St Albans City & District Council is expecting work to be completed towards the end of February, but no re-opening date has yet been decided.

The council has outlined the steps taken prior and following the closure in a report prepared ahead of a meeting of the district council’s public realm committee next week.

The report said no concerns about asbestos had been raised during the council’s last inspection in January 2021, but during an unrelated condition survey in December the surveyor found dust below some known encapsulated asbestos and recommended additional tests take place.

Following tests of the dust samples on December 13, the results found the presence of asbestos contamination in four of seven samples, leading to the initial cancellation of some performances before a decision was made to remove the asbestos entirely.

An independent analysis of air quality on December did not detect asbestos in the air, but after detecting the presence of asbestos contamination on stage equipment, the council withdrew the stage and auditorium from use to avoid further disturbance.

Despite removing the asbestos from the section of building being the more costly option in the short term, officers said there is longer term value for money from the decision.

The report confirms the total cost of the works is expected to be "in the region of £237,000" which will be paid for from a fund earmarked for repairs and maintenance and from the general fund maintenance budget. 

The repairs will not require any additional budget for this financial year. However, as unspent funds in the reserve each year are put towards the council’s compliance programme, officers have warned "additional pressure will be put" on next year’s programme as a result.

The council concluded it was "fortunate" the asbestos was picked up when it was, and the council took "swift remedial action and works continue".

At the time of the closure, the council said there was no public health risk, and confirmed the closure "has nothing to do with" recently announced proposals to redevelop the area.