Friendship House set to stay as community centre while options considered

Cabinet is set to recommend on Tuesday (13 July) that Friendship House in Hatfield continues to be for community or charitable use for at least three years, subject to discussions with the current tenant, while an evaluation is made on how best to maintain the community facility longer term.

Friendship House

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council currently leases Friendship House to the trustees of Hatfield and District Age Concern, who ran a day centre on the site. Sadly, despite various grant schemes offering support to local community and voluntary groups impacted by the Covid pandemic, in February the charity decided continuing operations was not viable.

Friendship House is over 50 years old and, without major investment, is nearing the end of its life.

An initial feasibility study of the site in Wellfield Close looked at keeping the site as is, as well as identifying two redevelopment options both of which include new homes and the provision of a new, modern community facility -- a priority for the council.

A more detailed viability study of the three proposals will now take place.

Cllr Stephen Boulton, Executive Member, Environment, Planning, Estates and Development, said:

It's clear Friendship House is a much-loved facility, and we are committed to making sure it does not sit empty.

In the longer term, we want to ensure the site can best serve the needs of local residents and maintaining a community facility is central to this. As is providing new affordable housing and our detailed assessment work will give us a better understanding of the site's potential.

The full report is available on the council's website.