AS ENCOURAGED by the County Times Comment, I am trying to look rationally at the proposal regarding the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre (BHLC).
I would always expect HDC to look for economic opportunities to balance the books and ensure good leisure service provision at effective cost. I would certainly not criticise them for so doing.
The HDC West of Horsham LDF Masterplan (Principle 5 & Statement 12) adopted 31/10/2008, stated that any proposed development ‘should take full account of identified leisure requirements, including enhancement to the leisure centre facilities’, to cater for the inhabitants of an anticipated extra 2,000 homes.
Two scenarios were proposed for the future of the existing leisure centre. ‘(1) An extension and improvement of the leisure centre or (2) redevelopment and replacement of the leisure centre to the south of the existing premises’.
A dedicated 1Ha plot of land was proposed to meet either of these options.
Subsequently, more detailed plans formally approved on 3/10/2011 have maintained this principle and a 1Ha site is still designated for extension/relocation of the BHLC.
The residential development in this area by Countryside Properties does not impinge on this ‘reserved’ site.
HDC is now looking at the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant Plan and the BHLC site is apparently potentially very valuable to developers.
This is not at all surprising, given its location near to the Tesco superstore. It is to be expected that HDC should give consideration to selling/letting at a ‘premium’.
If this proved the ‘best’ option, the logical conclusion would therefore be to invest some of the proceeds (together with already secured Section 106 developer levies) in building a new BHLC, as previously envisaged, on the 1Ha of land already allocated immediately to the south.
So why is HDC reneging on its own plan, agreed and signed-off after extensive consultation? It is also clear that in 2008 HDC was well aware of the shortcomings of the BHLC buildings (and almost certainly the value of the site) as it proposed a local relocation option at that time.
Why, instead of getting a straight answer to the above question are we seeing: false alarm over the ‘suddenly discovered’ inadequacies of the BHLC buildings; inaccurate headlines about repair costs (report actually says one third of a million immediately and rest over five years); expensive consultant reports which conveniently seem to give HDC a ‘dubiously argued get out option’; lack of recognition of all the user categories at the BHLC; lack of consultation with representative bodies; lack of transparency and openness.
If the HDC West of Horsham Masterplan LDF commitment to such local services can be so comprehensively and retrospectively dispensed with, maybe HDC should reconsult on the whole development plan for this area?
Come on HDC, please fulfill your documented obligations and retain a leisure centre at Broadbridge Heath, even if it is BHLC Mk2!
After all, if the site is so valuable doesn’t it make funding a new BHLC easier and the much flaunted £1.5m repair cost totally irrelevant?
Cox Green, Rudgwick