Council to consider £2m investment in leisure centre

The £2,000,000 upgrade is proposed for Brandon Leisure Centre – Photo: Terry Hawkins

West Suffolk Council will consider a recommendation to invest almost £2,000,000 in an upgrade of Brandon Leisure Centre.

The scheme, which will be discussed at the next cabinet meeting on 6th October, would see community health services provided alongside improved fitness facilities.

An in depth consultation with residents allowed the council to see what was important to the community and as such the proposed upgrade includes an improved café and waiting area; gym relocation and a purpose built free weights area; a new studio and a Shapemaster suite along with improved changing facilities as well as treatment rooms and office space.

The scheme would also see the introduction of the first Changing Places toilet in the town.

West Suffolk Council has worked with not for profit partner Abbeycroft Leisure, which manages its five leisure centres across the district, and Alliance Leisure, who will deliver the project, following a successful £1.6m upgrade of Haverhill Leisure Centre in 2018 and the £1.8m upgrade of Newmarket Leisure Centre in spring 2020.

In February this year, £99,000 was agreed to progress cost certainty work to plan the project, and to give a fixed cost for the council. The cost of the project would be met from West Suffolk Council’s Leisure Investment Fund, set up in 2016, which allocated £1.6m to the upgrade, and £300,000 from the Council’s Growth Fund to develop the rentable space that could be occupied by local community health practitioners.

Cllr Jo Rayner, Cabinet member for Leisure, Culture and Community Hubs said: “One of our corporate priorities is for healthy, active families and communities which we help achieve through providing opportunities to be active.

“We began consulting Brandon residents on their ambitions in 2017 and since then have been working as part of the West Suffolk Health Alliance on configuring the site to deliver a seamless, tailored customer experience. I believe the last few months have raised awareness of the importance of looking after our health.

“Certainly national research confirms that people are planning to use COVID secure leisure facilities, perhaps even more so with shorter days allowing less outside exercise. I am very pleased to recommend this project for approval.”

Michelle Glass, Associate Director, Community Services for West Suffolk Foundation Trust and lead for Brandon said: “Our strategy is to ensure health and social care services are delivered as close to the resident as possible and this is a great example how working together can achieve something that would otherwise be very difficult. We have been involved from the start, including the resident consultation, which has been invaluable in understanding how we would operate. We continue to work on our plans while the project is being considered.”

Warren Smyth, CEO of Abbeycroft Leisure, said: “As a not for profit social enterprise we inspire healthier active communities through excellent facilities and services, great experiences and strong partnerships. This project has Brandon residents’ health at its heart and we know from collaborations in other places this can truly motivate people to do something that has a positive impact on their wellbeing.”

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