Members of a task group looking at plans for a new Lichfield leisure centre were “disappointed” that some facilities had to be cut from the proposals, a councillor has said.

A plan of the new leisure centre layout at Stychbrook Park

Lichfield District Council is hoping to build a long term replacement for Friary Grange Leisure Centre on Stychbrook Park.

A report outlining what the new facility would include was discussed at an overview and scrutiny meeting at the local authority last night (21st January).

The £12million scheme would include a swimming pool, 3G pitch and fitness suites.

But Cllr Liz Little, cabinet member for major projects and economic development, said some compromises had been made to keep costs under control.

Cllr Liz Little

“The list [at 3.5 on the report] is what came out of the work that we did with regards to what we would like and what we think the district may need.

“Unfortunately that came out at £17million. So what we’ve done is not a scaled down version, but we have gone back to the drawing board to create the current list.

“We were a little bit disappointed – I know the task group were – that we can’t have a teaching pool. However, we’ve put in a proposal for a moveable floor in the pool that will adjust the depth and allow teaching for various age groups.

“We’ve also got the 3G pitch, which we know from various sources people want to see in the district.”

Cllr Liz Little, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Brian Yeates had questioned the decision to go for an option which may not have all of the desirable facilities.

“If we’re going to build something we may as well do as much as we can so we have a leisure centre that will cover everything.”

Cllr Brian Yeates, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Mike Wilcox also questioned whether the current list of facilities was sufficient to meet the needs of residents.

Cllr Mike Wilcox

“Is there anything in the wishlist that may not bump it up to the £17million figure, but might just include something like badminton or squash courts that may give us a bit more of an offer to local residents?

“Otherwise it’s only fitness facilities and small studios for keep fit classes that are not the size of a sports court.

“We are only going to have one opportunity to do this, so we want to try and get as much as we can into the leisure facility rather than regret we didn’t spend another million to get say a squash or badminton court.”

Cllr Mike Wilcox, Lichfield District Council

But Cllr Little said the numbers did not stack up to support the case for adding some elements from the initial wishlist.

“While we have squash courts at Friary Grange, the data shows they aren’t used in the day and are only really used between 6pm to 9pm. They have them in the new leisure centre at Oak Park [in Walsall Wood], but the usage isn’t great.

“If we looked to add something from the wish list then it would be the teaching pool – but that would be an extra £2million.

“Nothing is cheap when you’re building a leisure centre.”

Cllr Liz Little, Lichfield District Council

“The funding gap still remains”

Stychbrook Park. Picture: Google Streetview

Even if councillors do push ahead with the £12million project, funding hurdles will still need to be overcome.

The council has already committed £5million to the scheme, but the remaining £7million still needs to be found.

Cllr Little said:

“The funding gap still remains.

“We are in talks with various sources, including HS2 and the LEPs on reducing that.

“We know we have confirmed Section 106 money, but there is still the funding gap to get to £11.9m.”

Cllr Liz Little, Lichfield District Council

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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14 Comments

  1. Here we go, cutting back on a promise to replace the leisure centre. This is North Lichfield so it’s bound to get dumped on.

    Why not respond to public feeling, do it and do it properly without stinginess. You have Friary Grange and Burntwood leisure centres as a blueprint and as a starting point, but provide better than that as an investment in the health and wellbeing of your residents.

    Show some imagination, crowdfund for the shortfall ?

  2. The clouds are clearing. I can see a number of people.

    They are saying “why do we not drop the swimming pool. There is one with a moveable floor, being built a mile and a half up the road. It is also being worked on by a former councillor”

    https://hollandlloyd.co.uk/consultation/theswimhouse/

    Uniquely, between 2015 and 2019 Ben was a District Councillor where he got to grips with the inner workings of a local authority. This experience helps to understand an authority’s concerns and wishes, as well as the mechanisms for change. Ben has used this experience to ensure effective consultation with local authority members and officers.

  3. …with regards to what we would like and what we think the district may need.
    So, not what the people want or what they need? Says it all doesn’t it.
    Here is an opportunity to build something beneficial to serve the GROWING population of Lichfield for decades to come, and you have one shot at this. Don’t mess it up. Don’t short-change the people.
    The cynic in me thinks they’ll be talking about this for years to come and l feel we might just have another ‘Friarsgate’ on our hands. I do hope I’m wrong.

  4. Always some excuse. If you can’t have all the amenities that were originally proposed, why bother? There will ALWAYS be a shortage of funds and the more complicated it’s made it will never work. Why do you need a “teaching” pool? And certainly not some movable floor that will no doubt require regular maintenance. Please, be sensible, if possible, and do as the PUBLIC has been promised, not a watered down version.

  5. Mystic Meg – shame your mystical powers do not extend to being able to read clear sentences in the above article.

    “The £12million scheme would include a swimming pool, 3G pitch and fitness suites.”

    The scheme still includes a 25m x 6 lane pool.

    The private development you refer to is smaller – 24m and x4 lane pool. It is also a private business venture so unlikely to impact much on the public facility the council is looking to develop.

    But you may know more with your ability to gaze into the future. Hope you are able to read whatever information you find as you haven’t managed with that with this article.

  6. Lichfield council are only interested in building houses, selling off land to developers.We live on the border of Lichfield and Tamworth and we have now got thousands of new houses where the residents use all of Tamworths roads and facilities with the rates goong to Lochfield county council.

  7. losing the learner pool is a mistake in my opinion – it makes young children learning so much better, and takes them out of the way of adults trying to do serious swimming.
    With the amount of new housing in Lichfield surely a half decent leisure centre should be a priority. There is precious little else in Lichfield. Not everyone can afford a gym membership, or indeed a private pool membership. The proposal of the private pool build is just ‘muddying the waters’ in the designs for a public pool, and is I should think irrelevant.
    Is a moving floor in a pool really that much cheaper than a learner pool? I would be interested to know. And frankly I think Duncan is probably right – this should be on the Friarsgate site – a shopping complex seems like a white elephant in the present economic circumstances.

  8. Well here we go again with no terms of reference, no clear engagement with the community, but we’ve expertly decided what you need!

    How can any pricing be remotely accurate when a) the above hasn’t been completed and b) gone through any sort of procurement process. Of course consultants will aim for top price bands it’s their job.

    Every time you think this can’t get worse with ldc it does.

    Hopefully a new CEO might bring a level of engagement with residents and some much improved governance and commercial acumen

    Pathetic really.

  9. Abandon this site & compare with what can be done [at last] with Friarsgate, & therby give some credence to what voting people want & where

  10. I’m surprised that Cllr Mike Wilcox has the gall to express an opinion on this and make out that he is thinking of the people, since the fiasco that is Friarsgate started on his watch.

  11. Is there going to be a climbing wall? I’d love to have one locally as there isn’t a decent one for miles!!!

  12. Surely if Friarsgate isn’t going ahead the land could be used for a more central leisure centre, more easily accessible from all areas of the city, particularly for those who don’t drive. It would be within walking distance for most.

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