LITTLEHAMPTON could be in line for a new £14.3m leisure centre and pool in the wake of Britain’s Olympic legacy.
Consultants are recommending the impressive new facility as part of a wide-ranging leisure strategy for Arun District Council, covering the next decade and beyond.
They suggest part or all of the existing Littlehampton Swimming and Sports Centre site on the seafront should be sold off for development, to generate up to £6m which could then be ploughed into a new complex fit for the 21st century.
Selling off the whole site would enable an entirely new centre to be built at The Littlehampton Academy, which would use the facility during school hours.
A second option is to dispose of part of the site and use the proceeds for a £3.2m refurbishment of the existing centre.
However, while sport looks like being a winner in the leisure stakes, Littlehampton’s Windmill Entertainment Centre appears to be even more under threat of closure, although Arun has been quick to insist that no decisions have been taken on any of the suggestions in the report by consultants Colliers International.
On Monday the council launches a public consultation which continues until October 5, giving residents the chance to find out more themselves about what Arun sees as “exciting” opportunities to transform sports, leisure and cultural facilities in the district.
The Colliers’ report is a second draft, sharpening its focus after an initial broad-brush view of the existing facilities and made some preliminary recommendations.
Key features of the new draft include:
• the two options for a new swimming/leisure centre in Littlehampton;
• redevelopment of the Windmill Entertainment Centre site to create a high quality water play area for all ages, and/or skate bowl, together with a hotel and seaview restaurant and bar;
• it is suggested that music and drama groups currently using the Windmill could switch either to The Littlehampton Academy’s drama studio or to a new theatre development at Bognor;
• a £3.6m refurbishment of Arun Leisure Centre at Felpham;
• improving cycling across the district and making Arundel more pedestrian-friendly.
Philippa Dart, Arun’s assistant director of environmental services, said: “We are looking at (Olympic) legacy here, at the health of Arun’s residents for the future.”
Spelling out the threat to the Windmill, a consultation leaflet being distributed by Arun states: “The Windmill is in need of significant investment and figures show its use is low, which creates a huge demand for subsidy from local council tax payers.”
Arun chief executive Nigel Lynn admitted that, ideally, he would like to see the council’s leisure facilities run at no cost to council tax payers, and hinted that when the leisure contract, currently run by Inspire Leisure, came up for renewal in three years’ time, the terms would be more stringent.
Councillor Paul Dendle, Arun cabinet member responsible for tourism, said: “I urge people not to miss their opportunity to have their say on this draft strategy.
“We are committed to ensuring that the council’s approach to leisure and culture meets the needs and aspirations of those who live, work in and visit Arun.”
Feedback from the consultation will help Arun’s councillors decide the next steps, with a final strategy drawn up in the autumn, to be adopted by the council in January.