The fight for better facilities in a new Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre was handed a welcome boost as England Athletics has called for the retention of the indoor tube.
When Horsham District Council agreed to provide a new facility in June 2012 it ruled out a new tube, used for indoor athletics, because it was too costly.
But users of the leisure centre believe the council has a moral and statutory duty to provide equivalent or better facilities than those currently available when it redevelops the site.
In February HDC unveiled its masterplan for the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant, which included a new leisure facility, retail and restaurant units, a hotel, and up to 200 apartments.
This week the Joint User Group launched its proposal for a ‘Dual Hall’, providing a space for indoor athletics, indoor tennis, and a range of other activities, on top of a four-court sports hall.
Neil Deans, South Area manager for England Athletics, said: “We are grateful that the outdoor provision is being retained as part of the plans for the new centre, however the tube is an important facility for the athletics community locally and regionally and England Athletics are keen to see the opportunities provided by the venue retained.
“We hope that the proposal is given due consideration as an option to secure indoor provision as part of a wider multi-sport and multi-purpose facility.”
Users feel their Dual Hall proposal will provide the flexibility and capacity to cater for current and future demand for sports facilities.
Keith May, chairman of Horsham Blue Star Harriers, said: “The club hopes that this proposal is adopted by Horsham District Council and hope that they see it as a way to improve the overall sporting facilities in the district.
“The future of sport in the district is dependent on having top class facilities and we see this as an opportunity to enhance those facilities by adopting this proposal and give future generations the opportunity to be involved in sport.”
Mike Coombs, chairman, of Broadbridge Heath Tennis Club, added: “Broadbridge Heath Tennis Club is delighted to hear that the planned redevelopment of the leisure centre could include the provision of two indoor tennis courts.
“There is no doubt that the courts would be well used as they would provide a long awaited alternative to travelling to indoor courts currently located 40 minutes from Horsham.”
Ian Wood, chairman of Horsham Arun Badminton Club, said: “We accept that the building of a modern replacement leisure centre will bring change for our club.
“However it is difficult to understand how the council’s proposal of a single five (or maybe six) court sized multi-purpose hall will suffice, given the community demands on this space and the number of different sports it will need to cater for.
“The dual hall proposal offers a much better solution and should enable our club to thrive over the years ahead.
“If Horsham is serious about maintaining and enhancing its reputation as a sporting centre of excellence it needs to continue to invest in its sporting facilities.”
Meanwhile Sheila White and Sue Kornycky, representatives of the 50 plus group, added: “The Dual Hall proposal will allow the 50 Plus group to continue and provide the opportunity for our age group to remain an active and vibrant part of the community; certainly not an expensive drain on the NHS.
“The HDC proposal for a single sports hall is inadequate and would inevitably lead to a scaling back of our activities, which might even have to cease altogether during school holidays with the children’s schedules naturally taking precedence.”
important for users
Philip Baxter, chairman of Shipley Bowmen who use the tube in the winter, added: “Such facilities are rarely found and consequently, are extremely important to the people who use them.
“For that reason, it is important that any new leisure facility provides facilities at least as good as those presently available.”
Users launched the ‘People’s Vision’ last month, a list of 12 principles for the council to sign up to, as it fights for the leisure facilities they feel are vital for the future of the Horsham district.
However a request by Paul Kornycky, deputy chairman of the JUG, to sit in on the secret HDC Leisure Advisory Group meeting scheduled for tonight (Thursday July 19) was dismissed by council officers as being ‘inappropriate’.
no funding offer
A spokesperson for HDC said: “HDC is fully aware of the call from England Athletics to retain the indoor athletics facility (tube), however there has been no offer of funding to support this regional facility. At the council meeting of 27th June 2012 a decision was made not to include the provision of an indoor athletics facility because of limited use and demand and the significant cost of the provision. Council officers and members will continue to actively engage with England Athletics and local clubs in relation to the provision of the proposed outdoor track and facilities at Tanbridge House School.”
It said that groups such as the Sport and Leisure Advisory Group were forums where officers and members could discuss issues and offer advice to the relevant cabinet member, and HDC would continue to actively engage with users with a meeting to be held with the JUG next week.