Council chiefs say they could put more funding into ensuring a new leisure centre is built in Lichfield.

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

There had been doubts over the long term plan to construct a replacement for Friary Grange Leisure Centre at Stychbrook Park after an unsuccessful bid for Levelling Up funding.

Lichfield District Council had already committed £5million to the cost of a new facility, but faced a significant shortfall if it could not secure other sources of funding.

But Cllr Rob Strachan, cabinet member for finance, said the amount the local authority would be willing to put in could increase.

“I have an absolute commitment to the £5million we have made available for the new leisure centre available and I don’t think anything will budge me off that point.

“I’m also not opposed to increasing that figure if it means we get that leisure centre delivered, subject to a business case put forward to how that is split out whether we use our reserves or increase the amount we borrow.

” I’m happy to entertain that thought.”

Cllr Rob Strachan, Lichfield District Council

The comments come after confirmation that a single year funding agreement had been put in place for the council rather than the multi-year financial settlement deal it had hoped for.

But despite the lack of long term uncertainty, Cllr Strachan said there had been some short term benefits.

Cllr Rob Strachan
Cllr Rob Strachan

“While this settlement still doesn’t give us the certainty the sector so desperately needs, it does preserve the status quo regarding business rates retention and the new homes bonus.

“That leaves this authority around £2million better off than we expected to be and has gone some considerable way to preserving our financial resilience.

“We do expect to be in a better position than anticipated.

“There is absolutely no reason why this authority should not step up with capital funding where projects are stalled and we are going to actively look for ways to do that.”

Cllr Rob Strachan, Lichfield District Council

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  1. If we’re going to do this, we need to do it right. No point building a half-baked leisure centre people won’t use. We need a proper facility with swimming and a sports hall, where racket/racquet and other sports can be played. Give us an all-singing, all-dancing leisure centre and you’ll see high usage. Give us a glorified swimming pool and not many people will bother, which will be a big waste of money. The Council are concerned about how much this will cost, but get it wrong and you’ll only be wasting whatever you do spend.

    It would be great to see swimming baths with slides etc for children rather than just a lane swimming pool.

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