BREAKING NEWS: New £7.3 million leisure centre proposed

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A NEW £7.3 million leisure centre funded by Horsham District Council is proposed to replace Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, near Horsham.

At the Council meeting on 27 June, Horsham District Councillors will debate whether to proceed with this.

The proposal is for a considerably larger and more expensive facility than originally planned to be built, on a site south of the current centre and is subject to the sale of the existing leisure centre land.

In the meantime, the existing Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre building will continue to operate until the new centre is provided.

A detailed and independent business case declared the existing ageing leisure centre no longer ‘fit for purpose’. It concluded that a new centre would be required to meet the needs of the existing and new housing population.

The debate, which is open to the public to attend, comes after extensive consultation with over 1,700 responses received from leisure users and non users about the future of leisure provision in the Horsham District. This exercise ran in parallel with the Council’s consultation on planning issues in the Broadbridge Heath area.

The plans for a new leisure centre would see the majority of existing leisure centre users provided for at the new facility, with a combined leisure and indoor bowls building being built along with a commitment to provide an outdoor athletics track once a site can be found.

Inside the new centre would be a 6 rink indoor bowls, 3 court sports hall, fitness suite, multi-purpose dance studio/meeting room/crèche along with catering provision and outdoor courts. Such a facility would mean that many of the activities taking place in the existing leisure centre could continue and that leisure and community uses could be maximised.

Where it is not possible to provide for the minority of existing leisure centre users it is expected that other existing nearby leisure venues could be used, however, owing to high cost and the limited number of users this would not include indoor athletics.

Cllr Jonathan Chowen, Cabinet Member for Arts, Heritage and Leisure at Horsham District Council, said: “We have come a long way to reach the current proposal for an exciting new leisure centre at Broadbridge Heath. This proposal has been drawn up after months of consultation, dialogue and meetings with leisure and community groups, users of the leisure centre, Broadbridge Heath Parish Council as well as sports national governing bodies.

“The feedback from the consultation exercise has been very helpful to assist the Council in its decision making and the current proposal takes account of this along with other work, including how to improve the long term viability of the centre.

“There may even be opportunities to secure funding to grow the new centre further and I am continuing my discussions with Badminton England, for example, which is keen to work with the Council to try to secure funding for a fourth badminton court.

“Since last year I have kept an open mind as to the way forward and I look forward to presenting my recommendations to Council on 27 June.”

Cllr Ray Dawe, Leader of Horsham District Council, said: “The Council has undertaken what must amount to be one of the most intense periods of consultation and discussion in its history.

“As a result, the recommendation coming to the Council is, I believe, one that shows the Council has listened to the public’s views and provides a new purpose built leisure centre, which will be sustainable, affordable and energy efficient.

“I believe that the building will serve as a community hub to meet the needs of both existing and future populations for many years to come.”

“Progressing with this project will provide a rare opportunity to not only build an excellent new leisure facility for Horsham but also secure additional funds for the Council of approximately £12 million.

“This will potentially benefit all the 130,000 residents in the District by reducing the pressure on Council tax payers in these very difficult financial times.”

Horsham District Councillors will discuss the matter at the full Council meeting on Wednesday 27 June at 6pm at Horsham District Council.

The meeting is open to the public to attend and will take place in the Council Chamber at Horsham District Council, Park North, North Street, Horsham.

Questions from the public at the meeting are welcome, as always, by advising the Council of them by noon on 25 June – please email lesley.morgan@horsham.gov.uk or call 01403 215123 for details.

To ensure enough seating capacity, extra seating and a live recording will be available at The Capitol theatre next door.

The full report being considered by Horsham District Councillors at the 27 June meeting can be found online at www.horsham.gov.uk or by calling 01403 215259.