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Town leisure centre vision

A LONG-TERM vision of a new leisure centre for the Bognor Regis area has been backed by councillors.


They agreed to review the future requirements needed to potentially replace the Arun Leisure Centre in about 20 years. The goal is linked to the expiring leases for the building and the thousands of new homes expected to be built in the area in the next two decades.


The leisure centre is run by Freedom Leisure for Arun District Council.


Robin Wickham, the council’s group head of community wellbeing, said Arun’s indoor sports and leisure facility strategy was prepared to support its local plan from 2011-2031 which earmarks sites for housing, jobs use, recreation and open spaces.


He told the overview select committee on Tuesday: “This strategy identified that, during the life of the local plan, the sports hall and ancillary rooms will be 50 years old and the swimming pool over 30 years old.


“In addition to the likelihood that the buildings will be life-expired, the growth in population will render the current capacity of the leisure centre inadequate to meet the growth in demand.”


The leases for the centre off Felpham Way expired in 2036 and 2054, he said.


“The lease that expires first is for the older part of the building, that is the dry side, gym and sports hall and some of the changing rooms.


“The longer lease is for the wet side.


“What we need to do is to look at all the options regarding that site by talking to West Sussex County Council and Felpham Community College about what their requirements are for the site.


“We also need to think about whether it’s the best location for a leisure centre given all the development that is happening around Bognor Regis.”


But Mr Wickham said improvements were still needed in the coming years to ensure the centre provided a good venue for its members.


“It is recommended that the swimming pool changing rooms are refurbished and the studio capacity is increased,” he stated. This was backed by members of the committee.


The leisure centre is next to the community college and was built jointly by West Sussex and Arun councils in 1978. The swimming pool was added in the mid-1990s.


In the past three years, the centre has benefited from more than £2.5m of improvements. An all-weather synthetic 3G turf was laid in January, 2014, at a cost of £360,000.


Between November, 2014, and March, 2015, a squash court was converted into a studio and an indoor cycling room. The fitness suite was expanded from 43 to 53 fitness stations.


Last year saw Freedom Leisure win the contract from Arun to operate its leisure sites. This resulted in a £1.15m refurbishment to create a modern foyer, cafe, and larger changing rooms and revamped toilets on the first floor.

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