Tweaks to new centre plans prompt town council anger

DM17313663a.jpg. Councillors angry at changes to plans for new Littlehampton Leisure Centre. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-170321-183347008
DM17313663a.jpg. Councillors angry at changes to plans for new Littlehampton Leisure Centre. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-170321-183347008

Councillors have expressed their anger over changes to designs for Littlehampton’s £15million leisure centre.

Town councillors have objected to what they believe are significant changes to the plans, agreed by Arun District Council in January.

Alterations include reducing the width of the pool, less internal floorspace, loss of a toilet and removal of energy-saving features like solar panels because of ‘budgetary constraints’.

Arun has defended the tweaks, insisting they do not have a significant effect on the project.

Liberal Democrat town, district and county councillor Dr James Walsh said: “There is huge and understandable public interest in this project and what is being proposed diminishes the project as agreed in several respects.”

The town council considered the item under urgent business on Thursday, as non-material amendments do not require full public consultation.

Dr Walsh said it was a ‘blatent’ attempt to slip the changes ‘under the radar’ but Arun maintained it had been transparent by placing the item on next week’s planning agenda - despite not needing to.

Documents state the location of a sewage pipe had led to the building’s rotation, while the lack of solar panels and a combined gas-fired heat and power plant were omitted on cost grounds.

They revealed the building was reviewed to ensure ‘efficient use’ of the space, which improved efficiency.

Labour councillor Mike Northeast, who wanted the centre built as part of the North Littlehampton development, instead of in Sea Road, said: “I warned there would be problems because of the fact of the amount of sewage pipes. There is no plan at all for the future.”

Independent town councillor Derrick Chester said the changes seemed to be ‘budgetary measures slipped into an application to rotate the building slightly to avoid a sewage pipe’.

An Arun spokesman said it was ‘standard practice’ to review the design in-line with the cost plan. It said reducing the pool width by 0.5metres to 16.5metres was ‘negligible’.

In response to the town council’s concerns this could see the pool’s competition status downgraded, she said the design continued to meet Sport England and Amateur Swimming Association guidance.

She said items like solar panels could be incorporated at a later date if they were deemed appropriate.