What next for our leisure centres?

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PROPOSALS to close and demolish Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre were put forward following a condition survey of the centre - and a survey of Horsham District Council’s other sports centres: The Pavilions in the Park, Steyning Leisure Centre and Billingshurst Leisure Centre.

But this week the council said it was not yet possible to say what the survey revealed about the condition of the three other centres.

In its controversial ‘Leisure Futures Report’, consultants Kit Campbell Associates urges the council to consider adding specific renovation needs at its leisure centres to a list of projects which could benefit from a ‘community infrastructure levy.’

This levy allows local authorities to raise money to support development by funding infrastructure that the council, local community and neighbourhoods want.

The Leisure Futures report states that Horsham District Council “is fortunate that its major built facilities are relatively modern: Pavilions in the Park (2002), Billingshurst Leisure Centre (2008) and Steyning Swimming Pool (2000).

“However, some elements of these facilities, such as the Sports Hall at Steyning Leisure Centre, are reaching a critical age.”

But this week a council spokesperson said that it wasn’t yet possible to determine current or future maintenance requirements at Steyning, The Pavilions, or Billingshurst because the findings of the condition surveys were still being analysed.

He said: “The sports hall at Steyning Leisure Centre is managed under a dual use agreement by Horsham District Council’s service provider (DC Leisure Management) but the ownership lies with Steyning Grammar School/West Sussex County Council.

“Having completed the detailed analysis of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre’s maintenance requirements as a priority, the council is currently analysing the findings of the condition surveys undertaken on the Pavilions in the Park, Steyning Leisure Centre and Billingshurst Leisure Centre to determine the current and future maintenance requirements. This work is not yet complete.”

The County Times has now submitted a formal request for the details under the Freedom of Information Act.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of Henfield Parish Council last week, councillor Brian O’Connell (Con, Henfield) said that the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre building was not fit for purpose any more, saying he felt that if it was demolished it would be of benefit to the south of the district as the money could be used elsewhere.

He also added that at 25 years the building was too old and falling into disrepair.

Parish councillor Mike Morgan asked Mr O’Connell if this meant that Henfield’s leisure would be next as it is more thas 20 years old, and that it was worrying that a sports centre only had a lifespan of 25 years.

Mr O’Connell reassured him that their leisure centre was fit for purpose to be a leisure centre and that if the Broadbridge Heath centre were demolished there would be more money for other things.