In spite of a great deal of local opposition, East Suffolk Council’s Full Cabinet meeting, held on 3 September, agreed that a new Leisure Centre for Felixstowe would get the go ahead to bring a single destination facility to the town, which will service the community and also attract people from further afield.
Although many in the community feel that a Leisure Centre on the seafront is the best place for it – and that a development in the north of the town will further encourage visitors away from the town centre and encroach on countryside and an AONB – the Council have overruled these objections and decided that they know best.
A budget of £250,000 has been allocated to enable the design and planning of the new centre and Pulse Design and Build will be asked to provide designs and costs. This will include:
two dance studios, spin studio, multi-purpose room, 25m, 8-lane swimming pool, 15m x 8.5m learner pool with moveable floor, 6-court sports hall, thermal suite (sauna and steam) , Café for 40-50 people, full sized 3rd generation football pitch, 250 free car parking spaces, 100-station gym.
It is estimated that the project will cost £20 million and be part of the 2000 home North Garden Village development, which will effectively swamp Eastward Ho and all countryside around The Grove, changing the face of Felixstowe completely.
Cllr Letitia Smith, Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, said: “We are delighted that we can now go ahead with our plans to bring state-of-the-art leisure facilities to Felixstowe.
“When our leisure centres were first built, they gave our communities a great sense of pride. However, they are now ageing and need updating to today’s and future standards, so that they have the best facilities available and become the destinations of choice for our residents.
“Therefore, the Council will now focus on providing Felixstowe with a sustainable state of the art facility that local residents can be proud of and provides a destination focus for tourism opportunities in the town.”
In November 2017, East Suffolk Council (then Suffolk Coastal District Council) published its Felixstowe Leisure Vision document, which showcased the potential for a multi-million pound sports and leisure development. It also asked for local people’s views – a pointless exercise as it seems to have ignored all and every concern.
This of course is all part of the Council’s county wide Leisure Redevelopment Programme . Deben Leisure Centre and Leiston Leisure Centre has already been completed and work will start at Bungay Leisure Centre this month.
The existing Felixstowe Leisure Centre was built in 1985 and Brackenbury Leisure Centre, also in Felixstowe, operated by the Council from the 1990s. Both facilities would need a significant amount of money spent on them to maintain their current offer its true. But one cannot imagine it would be cheaper to create a ‘state of the art’ facility than upgrade the existing ones. And it will inevitably mean another car park on the site of the current Leisure Centre and houses on the site of Brackenberry. And a negative impact on businesses in town and on the seafront.
And for many already people living in the town who at the moment can walk to the Leisure Centre it will mean a car ride to the new facilities – and how does that work with increasing pollution and the carbon footprint?!
This doesn’t of course include the impact of a huge new housing development in a Town already struggling with inadequate education and health facilities – and a Town where the only jobs available are at the Port – who themselves are cutting back on their labour force as they seek to increase automation.
- The Council pursues the delivery of a new wet and dry destination facility in north Felixstowe.
- Council officers will report back to Cabinet when the RIBA stage 2 design-work is complete, including a full build programme for the works and the facilities that will be included within a new ‘destination’ facility.
- Council Officers will also bring to Cabinet a Business Plan for a new ‘destination’ Felixstowe Leisure Centre to support the project.
- An East Suffolk Built Facilities and Playing Pitch strategy will be produced following the updating of the current ones. This will also support the producing of a new East Suffolk Leisure Strategy.