A councillor says money must be found for a new Lichfield leisure centre – and insists a Government decision not to allocate funding cannot be used as an excuse not to build it.

A plan of the new leisure centre layout at Stychbrook Park
A plan of the new leisure centre layout at Stychbrook Park

The application for £5million from the Levelling Up Fund for the proposed new facility at Stychbrook Park was rejected, leaving a question mark hanging over the long term future of the project.

A report to a task group at Lichfield District Council said the money not being secured meant “the centre and timeframe, as envisaged, cannot be progressed”.

But Cllr Dave Robertson, Labour representative for Curborough ward, said the failure to access the Levelling Up Fund cannot be used as an excuse.

Cllr Dave Robertson
Cllr Dave Robertson

“This was highlighted in the report, despite the decision to build a new centre being taken well over a year before the Levelling Up Fund was announced in March this year.

“The task group had previously discussed the costs of the new facility and the possible sources of funding in November 2020 – four months before the levelling Up Fund was announced.

“It was a blow when the Government chose not to award any funding, but this fund didn’t exist when the decision was made, or when the outline facility mix was discussed.”

Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield District Council

Two options were put forward to the task group meeting – either delaying the project or scaling it back and building elements as and when they can be funded.

Cllr Robertson said both solutions go against the promises made to campaigners fighting for the future of leisure provision in Lichfield.

“In October 2019, the cabinet bowed to the weight of public opinion and reversed their decision to close Friary Grange Leisure Centre.

“As part of this decision, they promised our city a new facility to replace Friary Grange and it’s quite right that councillors hold them to their word.

“The people of Lichfield deserve a proper leisure centre, not excuses about whether a particular fund chose to support us or not.

“If the money isn’t coming from that fund, the council needs to find it elsewhere.”

Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Iain Eadie, deputy leader of Lichfield District Council, has previously said the local authority is determined to ensure leisure needs in the city are met.

“We committed to invest in Friary Grange Leisure Centre and to keep it open while we looked to deliver new leisure facilities.

“We did that and have a seven-year lease on the current centre meaning people will be able to use Friary Grange Leisure Centre for many years to come. 

“We would like to get new facilities open as quickly as possible and will keep looking at how we can do that, alongside how we deliver regeneration in Lichfield district as a whole.

“People have given us their views, so we need to take stock of these, as well as how the use of Friary Grange Leisure Centre has changed since 2019. 

“The Levelling Up Fund was not the only source of funding and we must now deliver new leisure facilities people will use and where there is an identified need such as for swimming, football pitches for youth teams, and for other sports.”

5 replies on “Councillor says money must be found to build new leisure centre in Lichfield”

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  1. Mr Mr – they already do apply a surcharge. In fact they apply 2. Based on another planning application I am aware of they charge 1 for education (about £15k per house which goes to Staffs CC) and a Community Infrastructure Levy of about £30k per house. This is ironic really because the Council then often refuses to adopt new roads built as part of new developments. So calculate the number of new houses being built across Lichfield and multiply that by these existing surcharges and you come up with a very big number and that is before the extra Council Tax revenues kick in. Doesn’t the Leisure Centre qualify as Community Infrastructure?

  2. Why can’t LDC use the funds available to improve the Friary Leisure Centre, the building is already there. Surely that would be the cheapest, easiest and quickest option.

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