Work has begun on a £3.5 million project to develop facilities at a leading Hertfordshire conference centre.
The Mayor of Hoddesdon, Cllr Steve Wortley, carried out a turf cutting and ground breaking ceremony at High Leigh Conference Centre, owned by the Christian Conference Trust.
The package of improvements will include the construction of a new accommodation wing featuring 38 bedrooms, including two accessible rooms, bringing the total number of bedrooms with en suite facilities at the centre to 168.
The vicar of Hoddesdon, Revd Dr Rachel Pennant, prayed for the safety of everyone working on the new building, asking for it to help play a part in sharing God’s hospitality.
Cllr Wortley said: “As many of us know, Hoddesdon has been on the map since the Domesday Book nearly two thousand years ago. Today it is still a well-known place, not least because of events that take place at the High Leigh Conference Centre.
“The equipment, the catering, the facilities and levels of service are all of the highest standard. Over the years there has been much building, rebuilding and refurbishing and today marks the start of the latest chapter in High Leigh’s continuing story.”
Each year more than 25,000 people spend between a day and a week at High Leigh. Principally used by Christian organisations, the magnificent venue also attracts many others including small local businesses, large national companies, various NHS organisations, local authorities, as well as charities, schools and other public bodies.
Cllr Wortley added: “CCT’s ambition has been to offer en suite facilities in all bedrooms available at High Leigh. This investment of well over three million pounds will finally mean that ambition is can be realised.”
Chair of the trustees of the Christian Conference Trust, Revd Michael Page, said: “One of the values that we hold at CCT is that we should be a good citizen in the communities where we operate.
“We want to provide employment for people who live locally; we want to buy produce and services from local companies when we can; we want to make our facilities available to local community groups and organisations, either free of charge or at discounted prices, wherever possible.
“The first doodles on the proverbial ‘back of an envelope’ were around five years ago. Since then we have seen much effort go into designing, refining and drawing up the plans, obtaining the permissions and all the work necessary to ensure the outcome will be fit for purpose.”
The new generously sized bedrooms can be easily adapted for individual use, shared use or for families. The energy efficient building will feature solar panels and air source heat pumps. The bedrooms will complement existing facilities which includes 16 meeting rooms, three large halls and three medium halls all equipped with up-to-date digital facilities including high speed Wi-Fi. The centre is set in a 40-acre country park close to Hoddesdon town centre, easily accessible from London and the northern Home Counties.
John Heasman, chief executive of CCT said: “We are delighted to mark the start of our investment at High Leigh, which further demonstrates our commitment to make the experience better and better for our conference guests.”
Barnes Construction, a family owned business, will carry out the work which is scheduled for completion next June.
To find out more about CCT please visit www.cct.org.uk or call 0300 111 4444.