A new state-of-the-art leisure facility south of the existing Broadbridge Heath site was approved tonight (Wednesday June 27) by the full council.
Jonathan Chowen (Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead), cabinet member for arts, heritage and leisure for Horsham District Council (HDC), said: “I have not done a U-turn, I have done a hand-brake turn.
“Having taken into account the results of the public consultation, value for money, affordability and accepting that BBHLC should be replaced with a new build leisure centre, a revised option 7A which is sustainable and affordable should be adopted as the basis of the strategy for the future of the Leisure Centre and adjacent facilities.”
The decision follows months of debate by councillors and hard campaigning by protesters over the future of BBHLC. And tonight mixed views from members of the public and the Joint User Group (JUG) were aired.
Corina Gibson, BBHLC gym user, hit out at the council’s decision, branding 7A ‘a sop of an option’ which is ‘harmful’ to the public and ‘detrimental financially’.
Others thanked the council for their cooperation since the news was broken last year.
But Tony Johnson, of Horsham Joggers, was the first to raise concerns about ‘the certainty of relocating the running track’.
The cabinet member replied: “One of the findings I support the most is the running track which has been the most asked for provision. At over 1M it is one of the most expensive elements to provide.
“If we look hesitant, that is because a site is not confirmed. We have three options and a fourth one today, but while confident, we cannot be definite.”
Campaigner Sue Kornyky, of the JUG, concluded: “The consultation vote gave two clear messages. The respondents want an outdoor track, but they reject the consultants leisure centre offering in favour of The People’s Option.”
“However, the council proposal of Option 7A is now to be welcomed and it could form the basis of the solution. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of 7A is that in starting to meet the needs and requirements of the community, the financial aspect is much improved too.”
She added: “I call upon the council to ensure that these additional variants are properly examined and not rejected based on any prejudicial viewpoint set on downgrading the Broadbridge Heath facilities.
“Please invest wisely in a new district Leisure Centre which will also maintain your resident’s wellbeing.”
Closing the debate, Leonard Crosbie, HDC chairman, said: “May I thank people for their involvement. It has been exceptional.”