Council to consider £8.36m investment in town leisure centre

Children playing and swimming in pool under the water. Photo: West Suffolk Council.

Proposals to increase funding for maintenance and improvement works at the Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre to £8.36 million are to be discussed next week.

The meeting of West Suffolk Council on Tuesday (July 16) will discuss investing an extra £2.15m on top of an existing £6.2m capital programme of maintenance and improvement works to Bury St Edmunds leisure centre.

The council is already committed to investing in essential maintenance of the existing leisure centre in Beetons Way, following its decision to cancel the Western Way development due to national uncertainty over public and household finances and the risk this would have placed on the council’s finances.

Following an Overview and Scrutiny review in 2023, cabinet asked officers to explore opportunities to enhance the offer and customer experience at the leisure centre, through an “invest to save” approach.

West Suffolk Council and Abbeycroft have been working together with specialist leisure consultants to develop refurbishment and maintenance plans for the leisure centre based on previous survey work that looked at use as well as gaps in provision.

The business case that will be brought before full council next week, sets out a proposed plan for addressing the significant maintenance work and delivering key improvements at the centre.

These include the potential to:

  • Remodelling the main entrance area.
  • A new café and soft play through the conversion of the leisure pool space.
  • The creation of a splash pad with water play features in the leisure pool space and retention of the flumes.
  • A refurbishment of the cubicle area as well as refurbishment of the poolside shower and toilets.
  • The refurbishment of the pool halls including the replacement of the moveable pool floor in the activity pool, the replacement of the pool edge tiles, replacement of pool balustrades and a deep clean of the area.
  • The creation of a health and wellbeing area, with the addition of eight treatment rooms along with the refurbishment of an existing studio.
  • The refurbishment of the gym and inclusion of an E-gym as well as the creation of a dedicated spin studio and retention of the college gym space.
  • The refurbishment and enhancement of the health suite area.
  • Refurbishment of the sports hall including a new timber floor.

The works would be co-ordinated to try, as far as possible, to minimise disruption to centre users.

If the council agrees to the business case, a survey will be conducted where the public can view the proposed changes and provide feedback. Work will also be carried out to further achieve greater cost certainty at the earliest point possible.

Ian Shipp, cabinet member for Leisure, who will be seeking the budget approval of the council, said: “As part of our strategic priority for Thriving Communities, West Suffolk is committed to ensuring our residents can access high quality sport and leisure facilities to support their health and wellbeing.

“At a time when many councils nationally may be cutting back on things like leisure, we are proposing investment.

“Refurbishing the leisure centre will provide the opportunity to improve the leisure centre, enhancing the offer for young families while also developing the work linking health and leisure services to aid recovery or help people manage a medical condition.

“This carefully considered investment that I will be asking council to agree to, will allow us to update and enhance the facilities so that they are better matched to what people need.”

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