Haverhill Leisure Centre in line for major investment

Haverhill Leisure Centre''Picture Mark Westley
Haverhill Leisure Centre''Picture Mark Westley

Haverhill is in line to see its sporting facilities benefit from a £1.5m investment thanks to a new funding initiative from St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The work will move ahead if St Edmundsbury Council’s cabinet approves it at its meeting on Tuesday, March 27.

If approved, Haverhill will be the first town in West Suffolk to receive funding from St Edmundsbury’s Leisure Investment Fund, for a project that extends across two sites, and increases the range of activities and sporting facilities available to residents of Suffolk’s fourth largest town.

Cllr Jo Rayner, St Edmundsbury’s portfolio holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “This investment would deliver a wide range of new opportunities for leisure in Haverhill, and I look forward to presenting the proposal at next week’s cabinet meeting.”

Consultation would be held with leisure centre users before work began in May.

It will also allow St Edmundsbury to reduce the management fee it pays to its sports and leisure provider, Abbeycroft Leisure, eventually to zero.

Haverhill Leisure Centre, which benefited from a £5.2m makeover in 2009, would see dry-side sports extended, with new parkour and climbing environments, a brand new soft play area, new gym changing rooms and the addition of a wellness suite.

The gym and fitness suite, along with the new changing rooms, would all be on the first floor once work is completed.

The café would also be improved and moved to the ground floor as part of the plans. Swim activities are unaffected.

A community use agreement with Samuel Ward Academy would see an upgrade to the flooring of four of the eight courts in its iconic sports hall.

This would allow some current activities to transfer from the leisure centre sports hall and with the potential for increased school and community 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.

In the report prepared for the cabinet meeting, the need to improve sports hall provision in Haverhill was highlighted.

It says: “The Facility Needs Assessment for the Borough of St Edmundsbury indicates that generally there is a good supply of sports halls to meet both existing and future demand.

“However, it does identify that Haverhill Leisure Centre is operating at 100 per cent capacity at peak times and therefore the council should examine how they could consider the supply of sports hall provision in the longer term.”