The prospect of a shiny new sports centre for Bexhill sparked ideas and interest when put before members of Bexhill Town Forum.
Rother District Council’s Scott Lavocah told the Forum of plans to bring state-of-the-art sports facilities under one roof possibly on land where the old Bexhill High school once stood.
It is considered that existing sports facilities at Bexhill Leisure centre and the pool at Ravenside are now 20 years old and showing their age, with the council’s contract soon coming to an end.
New facilities envisaged are a larger swimming pool, increased health and fitness facilities, a multi-use games area and a skate park.
The alternative would be that, at the end of the existing contract, a private firm (such as Virgin Leisure) would bid to take over the two sites.
A single-site option could be funded by: a Community Infrastructure Levy (raising cash per dwelling) to the tune of £750,000; Section 106 contributions arising from sale of the bowling club site to Marks & Spencer, a grant from Sport England, development of the Bexhill High School site (to potentially provide a hotel, restaurant, housing), grants from Sport England (potentially up to £2 million).
The next step is to conduct a site planning brief including a Leisure Centre Feasibility Study and investigation into commercial opportunities by the vacation of the Ravenside Leisure Centre.
Currently the local authority alone would be unable to fund the new leisure facilities but it is committed to making the most of this opportunity for Bexhill especially in the light of Rother district having the lowest participation rates for sport in the UK.
There has been already been positive reaction to the proposal posted on Bexhill Observer’s Facebook page with much support for a large swimming pool, and even an ice rink. Forum members were keen to know if a new bowling facility might be included in the plan.
Cllr Bob White, RDC member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “We are considering ways of improving leisure facilities in Bexhill and will commission a feasibility and scoping study in the New Year to look into the possibility of building a single site sport and leisure complex in the town.
“The study will look into the possibility of providing facilities on land next to the Bexhill Down site. It will take a year to complete and will give us a better understanding of the viability of such a scheme and what opportunities exist for us to work with private sector partners.
“We are at a very early stage and cannot commit to building a new facility at the moment. Any scheme is likely to cost in the region of £8million to £15million and we would need to attract grant funding and private investment to deliver the project. The feasibility study will help us decide how to move forward with the scheme.”