Haverhill will be the first town in West Suffolk to benefit from new sporting facilities, worth £1.5m, following a decision at last night’s St Edmundsbury Council’s Cabinet meeting to allocate funding from its Leisure Investment Fund.
The funding will increase the range of activities and sporting facilities and also reduce the management fee that St Edmundsbury pays its sports and leisure provider, Abbeycroft Leisure, towards the running costs of the Leisure centre, eventually to zero.
Cllr Joanna Rayner, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture said: “Opportunities for physical activity are fundamental to the health and wellbeing of our communities and we are constantly looking for innovative ways to provide them.”
“The capital from the Leisure Investment Fund will allow our leisure partners, Abbeycroft Leisure, to become more self-sufficient.
“Income from the upgraded facilities and new activities will contribute to the cost of the running costs of the leisure centre and reduce the amount of support by the tax payer.”
“We are also increasing sports capacity for Suffolk’s fourth largest town by financing an upgrade for the fantastic sports hall at Samuel Ward Academy, and providing residents, sports groups and students with opportunities for a greater range of activities through a community use agreement.”
With funding now in place, Abbeycroft Leisure will be working with leisure centre users over the course of the project.
Warren Smyth, Chief Executive of Abbeycroft Leisure, which runs leisure and sports facilities and events across Suffolk, said: “Leisure trends are showing that people want more from their leisure experience and are seeking alternative activities to some of the more traditional ones.”
“It’s fantastic news that Haverhill Leisure Centre will receive a brand new climbing facility, suitable for a range of ages and abilities; a mobile Parkour experience; a wellbeing suite for therapies and classes; a super studio, a new café and new soft play area, as well as upgrading the gym experience for our members. Full plans will be available in the leisure centre soon”.
“We will be working very closely with our customers to do whatever we can to minimise disruption and accommodate their needs during the development, and our swim customers won’t be affected at all”
The leisure centre footprint will remain unchanged with some new facilities being housed in the current 5-court sports hall, and additional capacity is being provided through community use agreements with local schools.
Debbie Willson, Director of Operations for Samuel Ward Academy Trust said: “Our amazing sports hall was built in 2010 when we welcomed 400 new students to the campus with the move from three to two-tier education.
“It is a huge asset to Samuel Ward and our students are very lucky to have use of it. “Its limiting factor is its solid floor, and we are delighted to be working with St Edmundsbury Borough Council to improve this, and look forward to welcoming more community and school use.”
The delivery programme would be phased to cause the minimum of disruption.
The schedule begins with work to redevelop the first floor of the leisure centre, between late May and early September, followed by ground floor work from September to December.
The school sports hall floor will be laid over the summer holiday.