BREAKING NEWS: New leisure centre should be built at Broadbridge Heath

JPCT-08-02-12 Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, BBH, sign S12060817a -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT-08-02-12 Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, BBH, sign S12060817a -photo by Steve Cobb

RESIDENTS are to be consulted on future options concerning leisure facilities in Broadbridge Heath from May 5.

Each option recommends the demolition and decommissioning of the current centre, replacing it with a smaller one on land south of Horsham Indoor Bowls Club.

A preferred option, number 6, provides a new gym, two court multi-purpose hall, cafe, and a six rink indoor bowls club.

However, neither an indoor nor outdoor running track (home to clubs like Blue Star Harriers) would be replaced, and the sports hall facilities (Badmington Club), HAODS and Theatre 48, and Sensory Room would all be relocated to an alternative site.

Unlike the current centre at Broadbridge Heath, the new one would not provide Meeting Rooms, Dance Studio, Beauty Salon nor Sports Therapy.

For full details, analysis and comment see this Thursday’s County Times. To contribute send your thoughts to ct.news@sussexnewspapers.co.uk, or register and comment below.

Today, Horsham District Council has released the following detailed press statement, entitled “The future of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre”:

A REPORT on the future of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre is to be discussed formally by Horsham District Council Cabinet Members on Thursday 3 May 2012 at 5.30pm.

They will consider taking forward for consultation the detailed recommendations for its future made in the report.

In December 2011, it was agreed that no decision about the future of the leisure centre would be taken until a business case and draft planning document for the site was produced and agreed by Councillors.

In late February this year, the Council appointed consultants Strategic Leisure and FMG Consulting to produce a full report including a business case. The purpose was to present a range of options for leisure provision in the Broadbridge Heath area and to provide an evidence base enabling Councillors to make an informed decision about the leisure centre’s future.

Since December, significant engagement and dialogue has taken place with users of the leisure centre including current leaseholders, core user groups, national sporting governing bodies and the recently established Broadbridge Heath Joint User Group.

This has helped shape the emerging options by ensuring that sport, community and social needs have been identified. The Council would like to take this opportunity to thank all these groups and individuals for their sustained commitment and constructive input in assisting the Council with this work.

In summary, the business case:

• Recognises that long term continued use of the existing building is not considered financially viable given its age and poor condition.

• Identifies current and future leisure needs of residents in the area/district, with Sport England commissioned to undertake some of this work.

• Identifies essential and desirable leisure facilities based on revised need.

• Considers new leisure provision which will be delivered as part of the developer contributions (Section 106) from Countryside Properties in Broadbridge Heath.

• Contains a recent land valuation of the site.

• Refers to the emerging draft planning brief for the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant.

• Identifies and scopes nine options with detailed financial information determining viability

Nine project options emerged and were subjected to detailed financial modelling. The evidence shows that with an expanding population in the Broadbridge Heath vicinity some ‘essential’ leisure provision should remain.

The consultants consider four of the nine options to be the most viable and these are now recommended by them for public consultation. All four recommended options commit to re-providing a leisure centre south of the existing Horsham Indoor Bowls Club at Broadbridge Heath. These recommended options, numbered here the same as they are in the business case report, are:

Option 4: Re-provision of a new smaller leisure centre providing ‘essential’ facilities and retaining the Indoor Bowls Club in its current location. Estimated cost £1.81m.

Option 5: Same as Option 4 but also includes provision for a new ‘desirable’ athletics track albeit in an alternative location. Estimated cost £2.96m.

Option 6: Re-provision of a new leisure centre providing ‘essential’ facilities and which incorporates a new 6 rink indoor bowls facility and cafe. Estimated cost £4.85m

Option 7: Same as Option 6 but also includes provision for a ‘desirable’ athletics track albeit in an alternative location. Estimated cost £6m.

Option 6 is identified as the consultants preferred option as it is fit for purpose, right sized and affordable to build and operate.

It is important to note that most of the existing leisure centre users and activities (depending on which option is chosen) will either be accommodated in a new centre or in alternative local facilities.

Subject to approval, the centre will continue operating until the preferred option is delivered and in the meantime, the Council will consider management arrangements for the facility beyond 30 November 2012.

The outline business case for Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre will be available from 25 April at www.horsham.gov.uk

The business case and planning brief documents have been prepared in parallel for consideration by Cabinet next week in readiness for public consultation.

All residents across the district are encouraged to participate in this consultation exercise which will begin on 5 May with a deadline for comments of 5 June. There will be a series of public exhibitions and meetings to explain the options, with full information about the consultation also available from 5 May online at www.horsham.gov.uk or by calling 01403 215259.

To answer any questions from members of the public during the consultation period, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Heritage and Leisure, Cllr Jonathan Chowen, will be available by email at leisure@horsham.gov.uk or via Horsham District Council’s facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Horsham-District-Council/241855931903 or by writing to him at Horsham District Council, Park North, North Street, Horsham RH12 1RL.

There will also be a ’live facebook chat’ on Horsham District Council’s facebook page with Cllr Chowen on Thursday 26 April between 7-8pm which the public is encouraged to use to raise questions, issues and comments in advance of the report being considered by the Cabinet.

A decision about the leisure centre’s future is then expected at the full Council meeting of Wednesday 27 June at 6pm.

The Cabinet and Council meetings on 3 May and 27 June respectively will take place in the Council Chamber at Horsham District Council, Park North, North Street, Horsham and will be open to the public. To ensure enough seating capacity, extra seating and a live recording will be available at The Capitol theatre next door.

Speaking this week, Cllr Jonathan Chowen, Cabinet Member for Arts, Heritage and Leisure at Horsham District Council, said: “In December, I made a promise that we would look in depth at all users and residents concern about the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre and have talks with them to try to understand their views.

“I said then that we would be asking a new team of outside experts to look at the business case in some considerable detail and report back to us.

“I believe that this report offers us a new and exciting way forward that will enable us to accommodate the sporting aspirations of those who use the leisure centre and provide modern facilities for the current and future residents of Broadbridge Heath.

“I must emphasise clearly that we do all this against a background of a very difficult financial situation.

“I and the whole team at Horsham District Council are most grateful for the positive way that the user groups, Broadbridge Heath Parish Council and residents have participated in this process and that as we move towards a decision on Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre that everyone will continue to work with us in the same constructive way.”

Cllr Ray Dawe, Leader of Horsham District Council, added: “I believe that over the last few months the Council has made strenuous efforts to have good dialogue with the users of the leisure centre while at the same time we have engaged outside experts to carefully establish if there was a sound financial case for taking the matter forward.

“We have attempted to ensure that there will be continuing sports provision for everyone who wants it, while at the same time looking after the interests of the wider Horsham District Council Council tax paying community who do not use the centre.

“I believe that the report sets out very sensible and workable recommendations and I look forward to continuing discussion on these.”

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