Royston homes officially opened at former cinema site

PUBLISHED: 13:13 12 November 2014 | UPDATED: 13:13 12 November 2014

Opening of Priory Court, Royston. Kevin Thompson, chief executive North Hertfordshire Homes; tenant Mrs Webb, Sir Oliver Heald MP with tickets to Royston Picture Palace.

Opening of Priory Court, Royston. Kevin Thompson, chief executive North Hertfordshire Homes; tenant Mrs Webb, Sir Oliver Heald MP with tickets to Royston Picture Palace.


A new landmark building in the centre of Royston has been formally opened by MP Sir Oliver Heald.

Group picture at opening of Austin CornerGroup picture at opening of Austin Corner

Austin Corner on the corner of Newmarket Road and Priory Lane – once the home of the town’s cinema and swimming pool – has been developed by North Hertfordshire Homes to create a mix of homes which are available for private ownership, shared ownership and rent, with local people getting priority for the social housing part of the scheme.

Addressing councillors, contractors and architects involved in the building and other guests on Friday, Sir Oliver – who has lived in the town for more than 30 years - said he was pleased to see such an attractive development on such an important site.

The site was originally bought by North Hertfordshire Homes in December 2008, but funding cuts in the wake of the global financial downturn meant that the proposed housing for older people originally planned for the site could not go ahead.

Jokingly referring to the frustration and time delays created by the cuts, chief executive Kevin Thompson said: “We have all waited a long time for this. I recall a letter in a local paper saying the hoardings around the site had been saying ‘New Homes Coming Soon’ for five years. I had to object, because it was only 31/2!”

But he thanked local people and local authorities for the positive working relationship that has allowed the original development to evolve into 24 homes. He said: “The funding from the 10 market sale houses has allowed us to provide 14 affordable homes for local people.”

After the official ribbon cutting, new Austin Corner resident Valerie Webb, who has lived in the town for nearly 40 years, was presented with flowers and Royston Picture Palace tickets as a tribute to the development’s past.


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