Imagine a boost for cycling in St Albans with a community-led, state-of-the-art Community and Cycle Hub with Cycling Activity Park. Club sessions for experienced cyclists. Bike workshops. Reconditioned bikes. A safe place to learn to ride: training for youngsters and adults, women-only sessions, fun cycle activities. Encouragement for less-confident riders and people with disabilities… to get on their bike!
It will inspire new cyclists. Children see cycling as fun. Experienced cyclists improve skills and take part in club/competition activities. Cycling increases in the district. It helps to reduce car journeys, reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of air.
This week’s blog is written by Gail Jackson, from the Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub campaign group, and former trustee of Sustainable St Albans. If you like what you see – Gail asks please consider donating to the Cottonmill Centre Crowdfunder – or take part in the ‘Dads Run for Fun’ on 2nd Jan to raise funds.
Imagine an eco-friendly community building with solar panels, air source heat pump, green roof, and no gas. Add a small fruit orchard with community kitchen to support food sharing and food growing initiatives. Finally a community cafe!
Well, right now, this fabulous new centre is being built – in the heart of Cottonmill in Sopwell ward, one of the most deprived areas in the district.
Inclusive Community Centre
There will be low-cost halls to hire. There is a ‘Quiet Room’ for peace and reflection. A Changing Places toilet makes the centre accessible for people with disabilities. Wudu washing facilities so local Muslims feel confident to use the space.
This centre is the result of 3 years + campaigning by local groups.
Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub campaign, Verulam Cycling Club, Sopwell Community Trust and St Albans scouts worked with the council design team to create a centre to meet residents’ needs.
Now you can help to build the centre
Community Crowdfunding – open until 6th Jan
St Albans City and District Council secured major funding for the centre. The plan is to complete the new building at the former Marlborough Pavilion site, off Old Oak, Cottonmill Lane AL1, in spring 2022.
Building costs recently increased. So, the local community are helping raise a total of £79k funds. See the Crowdfunder here.
For just £50 donation you can #Buyabrick and get your name engraved on it .
Rewards for Donating
- 3 Cycle Coaching sessions for young people
- Tea for two people with Daisy Cooper MP in St Albans
- Veggie BBQ party for 6 guests with Christo from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
- One month’s trial membership at JJ Fitness Gym
Sustainable Transport – Increasing cycling
Increasing the number of cyclists is important to SADC because Active Travel is a priority. The Council’s declared Climate Emergency aims to reduce petrol/diesel car use in favour of more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling. Increasing numbers of local cyclists could play an important role in developing cycling as a widespread means of local transport.
Bike Things To Do
- Purpose Built Cycle Hub – bike servicing, repair, bike hire, accessories, reconditioned cycles, training sessions.
- Outdoor Facilities – a pump track, within viewing distance of the café. Cyclo-cross course, existing dirt track facilities. Learn-to-ride, with progression to 3m wide cyclo-cross course (suitable for adapted bikes). Storage facilities and adapted bikes available for hire.
- Guided Rides – to build confidence and encourage people to cycle.
- Disability – ‘learn 2 ride’ sessions for people with a disability. With the Hertfordshire Disability Sports Foundation.
Learn-2-Ride sessions for children
Small groups – fun, friendly and safe traffic free environment.
Sopwell has few community spaces so we expect the halls to be used for yoga, Pilates, drama, dance, and social events including celebrations and weddings. And finally the Sopwell Muslim community will be able to host community events locally.
The centre can host youth clubs – from guides and scouts to anti-social behaviour work; meetups for the elderly and isolated; health and well-being support; food growing projects; food banks can use the community kitchen.
This project started out with a chat between two residents in Sainsbury’s café . Now it is a dream come true for the groups who began to campaign.
We hope you will enjoy this wonderful new community-led centre. It will be a cornerstone for developing sustainable transport in the district. It will be a community hub to encourage and enable supportive local networks to thrive.