A councillor has called for “a bit of honesty” on future plans for a new leisure centre in Lichfield.

The proposed layout of the new leisure centre at Stychbrook Park
The proposed layout of the new leisure centre at Stychbrook Park

Proposals have been put forward to build a long term replacement for Friary Grange Leisure Centre on land at Stychbrook Park.

But the scheme was dealt a blow when an application for Levelling Up funding was rejected.

A new report also shows that a bid for £1million of Community Infrastructure Levy cash will also not go ahead.

It has led to some suggestions that rather than a single centre, leisure provision could instead be distributed across the city.

Cllr Joanne Grange, independent member for Chadsmead, said the lack of funding raised concerns over how the local authority intended to keep its pledge to residents.

Cllr Joanne Grange
Cllr Joanne Grange

“The cabinet promised a new leisure centre not, as Cllr Iain Eadie tried to tell the leisure centre task group, ‘leisure facilities’ spread across the city.

“He was also told at the same task group meeting to go away and try harder to get funding, yet in [the Community Infrastructure Levy] report he is sticking to the line that the project will require revision.

“As everyone knows, revision means cutting back on plans, which have already been scaled back from the original intentions.

“It’s time for a bit of honesty here. If the cabinet is going to break its promise to the 10,000 people who signed the petition and the hundreds who heard the promise being made in the Garrick that there will be a new leisure centre, now’s the time to say it.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

The new centre was proposed after the previous site at Friary Grange had initially been earmarked for closure when a number of the facilities transferred to the adjoining school as part of a move for it to become an academy.

A public campaign saw Lichfield District Council u-turn on the decision and instead opt to fund short term work to keep the remaining facilities open along with a commitment to develop a long-term replacement.

“Not just about what happens within a physical building”

Cllr Eadie, cabinet member for leisure, said other sources of money to pay for the plans were being explored – but added that a new strategy could see the local authority look at different ways to spend the £5million it previously pledged for the new facility.

Iain Eadie
Iain Eadie

“Having been told our Levelling Up Fund bid was unsuccessful, our leisure task group asked us to look at other available funding opportunities.

“The Local Government Association and Sport England have helped us with this, and confirmed we have been exploring all the currently available funding options.

“We will look to make bids to future rounds of Levelling Up Funds as and when they are made available.

“The Local Government Association recently carried out a review for the council. In their feedback report they have said the development of a new Active Living Strategy will be important, and could assist with finalising the approach to new leisure facilities and in particular to engage partners in a joined up approach to delivering outcomes. 

“They felt this strategy should help shape the approach we take – not just about what happens within a physical building but within the community.

“Our new Active Living Strategy will be published in the next few months and will be central to how we spend the council’s £5million investment on capital projects that deliver health and wellbeing outcomes for the people that live in our district.” 

Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council

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  1. So, to paraphrase Cllr Eadie’s verbose response, despite a firm promise for a new leisure centre, we might be lucky to get a disparate collection of “leisure facilities”. And despite the fact the residents of Lichfield were very clear about what they wanted, a bunch of outsiders know best and we need a “strategy” rather than a leisure centre.

    In other words, the cabinet are breaking their promise and looking for ways to weasel out of a very clear commitment that was made to residents.

  2. I would echo the comments of Cllr Grange here as the previous portfolio holder of major projects. A commitment was given by the cabinet on 7th October 2019 at the Garrick ( of which Cllr Eadie was part of) to build a new leisure centre NOT leisure facilities across the district and given the recent article on the future of the golf facilities on beacon park I have concerns that history is repeating itself following the failure of the local plan earlier this year, another one of Cllr Eadie’s responsibilities . I would implore the leader to give some honesty here as to what the future holds for leisure and our public open spaces across the district.

  3. A collection of “leisure facilities” will literally be a see-saw, pull up bar, and some tyres to flip scattered around the city. Worst council I’ve ever come across.

  4. As a user of Friary Grange Leisure Centre, I’m very interested in this issue. My understanding is that LDC has a substantial financial reserve. Can they not use some of that to help fund the new centre? As an aside, I agree with Garfield on the attempt to apply for ‘levelling up’ money. Brass neck comes to mind.

  5. We do not need another football pitch! Squash and badminton courts would be a better alternative. Go and see the wonderful leisure centre in Burton if you want to know what we’re looking for.

  6. @Susan, this proposal actually reduces the number of football pitches in Lichfield. Stychbrook Park has at least two pitches, regularly used by the youngsters of Lichfield City FC at the weekends.

  7. They already know what the people of Lichfield need and want- please, please use the brown spaces for a sports centre without destroying our beautiful Beacon Park.
    All the money spent on planners planning seems not to have got us very far at all – he plans seem to get axed- therefore, wasted money! With the Cinema (should one be built) plus Garrick , Hub and Guildhall we have super Arts coverage. Please can you quickly decide on similar in terms of Exercise and Activity so that the community’s general health can be addressed with a flexible sporting complex and Swimming pool .

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