Council mulls U-turn on demolition of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre

Coverage of the shock news of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre's planned closure in 2011
Coverage of the shock news of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre's planned closure in 2011

Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre could be saved from demolition as the council has announced it is now looking at remodelling the facility.

The three year-saga started in November 2011 when Horsham District Council announced it was decommissioning the facility and not providing a replacement, much to users’ horror.

After a storm of protest the council committed to funding a replacement in June 2012 and has spent the last two-and-a-half years progressing more concrete proposals.

But this week Jonathan Chowen (Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead), HDC’s cabinet member for arts, heritage and leisure, told the County Times they were looking at the possibility of remodelling the existing centre as a ‘new consideration’.

Mr Chowen said: “The current centre had a lot of costs on it because the state it had been allowed to get into. It was not designed as a sports centre but we have asked perhaps we could look at remodelling and what it delivers.”

He added: “We are pursuing a new build as well and we will be drilling down the costs in the next few months.”

This follows proposals for the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant, which the council unveiled back in February.

These included plans for up to 200 apartments, new restaurant and retail units, a leisure centre, medical facility, and a hotel.

Asked what had changed Mr Chowen explained: “The markets have changed considerably in the last 12 months, the retail market and the construction market. That has affected our thoughts.”

He briefed user groups last week and said he wanted to give them a definite answer in the spring.

Mr Chowen added: “No final decisions are made on the options but we are committed to providing good quality sports provision at Broadbridge Heath.”

Paul Kornycky, deputy chairman of the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre Joint User Group, said: “BJUG welcome the news that HDC are apparently considering the option of renovating the existing BBH leisure centre with a major revamp and remodel.

“If feasible then this may provide a more affordable way of not only retaining the existing well used facilities but radically modernising and shaping them for the future.

“Properly funded and planned, it should be a very exciting project and could have our full support.

“We still understand that a new-build leisure centre is possible, in which case we will continue to press for ‘equivalent or better’ re-provision as stipulated under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF para 74).

“In either scenario, continuity of provision for the users is essential. We will continue to challenge HDC to adequately meet the sport and leisure needs of the expanding community with a district-scale leisure centre at Broadbridge Heath, as we have done for the past three years.”

Under current proposals the running track would be moved to Tanbridge House School, while Horsham District Indoor Bowls Club would be incorporated into a new build leisure centre.

Mr Chowen said there were no updates on either the bowls club or running track.

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