A £12.3m plan for a new Broadbridge Heath leisure centre was unveiled by Horsham District Council today (Monday).
Four years ago, a proposal to demolish the current leisure centre met with strong opposition from gym members, sports clubs, and even England Athletics.
The old centre will remain open for business while the new one is being built.
Jonathan Chowen, Horsham District Council (HDC) cabinet member for leisure and culture, said they have five options for the new facility.
“It looks like the emerging option is the most expensive one to build,” he said, “but the most cost-effective and management-efficient one, which we believe will deliver real improvements.”
A statement from HDC said: “The current leisure centre in Broadbridge Heath was built some 30 years ago to bring together in one building various sport and leisure activities which had previously taken place elsewhere on the site. However, the old building was not designed as a multi-sport leisure facility and is expensive to run.
“The council has worked closely with partners and local clubs to develop a proposal that meets both the current needs and future aspirations of the community and sports clubs that use the centre.
“A range of options were considered from maintaining the current building and carrying out essential repairs through to building a new leisure centre.
“The consensus was to develop a scheme that meets the needs of a growing and ageing population that is as modern as possible and provides best value for taxpayers and users.
“The proposed emerging scheme would be developed in Broadbridge Heath next to the site of the existing leisure centre, and adjoining the bowls club. It will be designed to improve the current leisure offer and meet future leisure demand, whilst at the same time minimising the burden on the council tax payer.
“The strategically located centre would serve residents of the district, and accommodate population growth in years to come.
“The scheme optimises the use of the neighbouring bowls club, and would also provide an outdoor running track, either in its current location 0or on a site nearby.
“A range of multi-use games areas behind the new centre would also be provided. The council will continue to work with the two amateur dramatic which use the existing centre to help them find new premises.”
Mr Chowen said: “As a council we have been looking ahead and planning for the future.
“We are pleased that we have been able to develop a new exciting scheme that provides more sporting and leisure facilities than any other option that we looked at, and would be cost effective to manage and minimise the burden on the council tax payer.
“We have worked very closely with our partners and many groups over the last few years. We now want to give the general public an opportunity to see what we hope we will be developing shortly.”
The plan, with Option 3 as the most likely choice, is now available for public viewing and comment. Mr Chowen said they are keen to hear the views of the whole community, but especially sports club users’ groups and Broadbridge Heath Parish Council.
Designs and plans will be on public show at Broadbridge Heath leisure centre, and at Horsham’s Pavilions in the Park for the next four weeks.
The plan will be presented to a Horsham District Council cabinet meeting in mid-November.
If the cabinet approves the scheme, the full council could confirm the decision as early as December this year. If councillors approve, the design can then be prepared in detail, with an application for planning permission being submitted in 2016. Full details will be published on the district council’s website, giving members of the public a chance to comment on the final design. If the leisure centre gets planning permission, work could start in 2017. This would mean that the new facility could be open by spring of 2018.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make our website your homepage at www.wscountytimes.co.uk
2 Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wscountytimes
3 Follow us on Twitter @wscountytimes
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!
The County Times – always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.