October 22nd, 2016

Multi-million pound leisure centre revamps given green light

PLANS for a multi-million revamp of leisure centres in Warwick and Leamington have been given planning permission – but will still need to be rubber-stamped by council chiefs later this year after costs rose.

Warwick District Council announced its intention to give a £12million facelift in November to Leamington’s Newbold Comyn centre and Warwick’s St Nicholas centre.

But costs have now increased by a further £2.5million. Councillors will meet next week to further discuss the project and the spiralling costs.

A final decision on the investment proposals will be made by Full Council in October, but  next week councillors will be asked to approve the release of around £636,000 from the project costs to allow essential preparatory work to be completed in advance of the final decision.

The council’s planning committee this week gave the green-light to the plans.

Residents had raised concerns over the proposals for unisex ‘village changing’ facilities at both centres, and the loss of the baby splash pool in Warwick. But the council received only a handful of official objections.

Newbold Comyn in Leamington is set to see the biggest changes with a new sports hall extension, and a ‘clip and climb’ wall – similar to the one at the newly revamped Stratford Leisure Centre – installed in the reception area. It is hoped the climbing wall feature will attract children’s parties.

Gym facilities and fitness studios will become a bigger feature at St Nicholas Park. The current gym will be turned into a spinning studio and an extension will create space for two new studios and an 80 station gym.

The plans mean the aging splash pool in Warwick will be lost, but the council is keen to encourage parents to take youngsters to the more modern children’s pool at Newbold Comyn.

It is hoped the revamps – which will be carried out at the same time – will begin in the summer and be completed by spring 2017.

There will be disruption to services at the centre during the work, but council chiefs hope it can be kept to a minimum, and are determined neither centre will have to close completely during the project.

Warwick District Council spokesman for leisure, Coun Michael Coker, said: “We have always endeavoured to provide good leisure facilities across the district but the time has come for them to be extended and upgraded to modern standards to meet the increasing participation in swimming and exercise.

“We will be in competition with other good local venues and we intend that ours will be equal if not better so our customers have the very best facilities that are accessible to all.

“Village changing facilities have been introduced to make the best use of the space available but also to bring the facilities up to date and make them as accessible as possible to the majority of our customers – the designs have been approved by Sport England and comply with design guidance.

“Whilst not everyone is happy with these proposals our consultation suggests they are acceptable to the majority and further they are used elsewhere without the difficulties some people envisage

“The loss of the small pool at St Nicholas Park has, despite efforts to find a solution, proven to be unavoidable given the space and budget available.”