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.
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.
“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.
“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”
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