New community space is officially opened

The Mayor of Bishop's Stortford cutting the ribbon with East Herts councillor, Sarah Hopewell and members of the u3a
The Markwell Studio, a light and airy community space at Castle Park, Bishop’s Stortford is now officially open.

Situated on the edge of the park and close to the town centre, the studio is available for private hire by individuals and community groups for classes, events and meetings. 

The strategy employed by Simon Knight Architects was to re-purpose existing structures where possible. The new studio has therefore been created from what was originally a toilet block.    

Re-using an existing structure has meant a saving in embodied carbon which would have been lost if the original building had been demolished. Timber cladding was selected as an appropriate material for the studio’s parkland setting and provided an opportunity to install insulation to improve the thermal performance of the building.  This was coupled with an air source heat pump.

By adhering closely to the original building’s character and ensuring a quality finish, the old structure has been transformed into an attractive feature visible from both the town and the park.

Councillor Richard Townsend, Mayor of Bishop’s Stortford said: “I’m delighted that another important element of Castle Park’s redevelopment has been completed. This will be a great asset and local landmark for people of all ages to enjoy in Bishop’s Stortford for years to come.”    

Councillor Sarah Hopewell, East Herts Executive Member for Wellbeing, added: “It’s clear that the architects have taken great care to ensure that the Markwell Studio blends in with its setting. Where possible, transforming existing buildings rather than demolishing them and starting again is clearly the right approach.”

The opening of the new studio has been long-awaited by local groups who regularly hired the previous community space. These include yoga, meditation, karate and Tai Chi classes as well as the Bishop’s Stortford Town Band and a number of u3a groups.  

With a membership of over 700 and running 55 diverse activity groups for the retired and semi-retired in Bishop’s Stortford, the u3a* was a regular user of the town council’s Markwell Pavilion. The Elsie Barrett Room** was designed specifically for this group and has been a mainstay of their organisation over the past three decades.

Dr Sue Rayner Jacobs, chair of the Bishop’s Stortford u3a said: “The Bishop’s Stortford u3a welcomes the opening of the new Markwell Studio – as an affordable venue which is close to the town centre and car parks, it will be a valuable asset for our group meetings.
“We thank the councils for their continued support and hope our beneficial relationship with them continues over the next three decades.” 

The Markwell Studio accommodates up to 60 people standing and 48 people seated. It can be hired by the hour on a one-off or regular basis via Bishop’s Stortford Town Council’s website.