West Suffolk Council’s Cabinet meeting on October 6 will consider a recommendation to invest almost £2 million in an upgrade of Brandon Leisure Centre, which would see community health services provided alongside improved fitness facilities.
In-depth community consultation with residents on what was important to them informed the proposed upgrade and includes an improved café and waiting area; gym relocation and a purpose built free weights area; a new studio and a Shapemaster suite, and improved changing facilities as well as treatment rooms and office space.
The scheme also includes the first Changing Places toilet in the town http://www.changing-places.org/
West Suffolk Council has worked with Abbeycroft Leisure, which manages its five leisure centres, and Alliance Leisure, who will deliver the project, on the 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.
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.”
Community health professionals are already based at West Suffolk House, the home of West Suffolk Council, and of Suffolk County Council services in Bury St Edmunds. There are plans for co-locating to the new Mildenhall Hub, when that is completed later this year, and eventually in the Western Way development in Bury St Edmunds.
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.”