Sauna for leisure centre as bid for £1m is successful

An artist's impression of what the leisure centre will look like
An artist's impression of what the leisure centre will look like

A sauna for the new leisure centre in Littlehampton is set to go ahead as a bid for a £1million grant ended in success.

The news was confirmed at a press conference before a cabinet meeting of Arun District Council on Monday evening.

It will boost the prospects of the £16million project in Sea Road, with council officers in the final stages of confirming the cost.

Speaking at the press conference, Robin Wickham, group head of community wellbeing, said the aim was to build a leisure centre which the town could grow with: “It is about building a legacy. People already say about the current leisure centre: ‘I remember when it was first built, and I learnt to swim there’.”

He added that he was ‘delighted’ to find out about the £1million grant from Sports England, which was applied for in June.

Speaking at the meeting, council leader Gill Brown said it was ‘fantastic news’: “We weren’t totally sure we would get the grant so that is great. Also, we have listened to what people said about the sauna; there was great public demand for that so it is fantastic that is going ahead too.”

The news will appease scores of residents who signed a petition for a sauna to replace the one at the current leisure centre. It was included as a provisional item, but at one point it seemed unlikely that it would be part of the final plans.

Speaking after the meeting, chief executive Nigel Lynn said the £1m would ‘go a long way to funding this project’: “It is £1million that doesn’t have to come from the taxpayer.”

Also discussed at the press conference were plans to use as many local suppliers and contractors as possible to build the leisure centre, and for school visits to encourage students to take a career in construction.

The final cost will go to full council for approval in September.

The project is due to open to the public by April 2019, at which point the existing centre will be fully demolished.

The new leisure centre in Mewsbrook Park will be larger than the existing facility to accommodate the growing population of Littlehampton. It will also include an eight-lane, 25 metre swimming pool, training pool, 80 to 85-station gym, dance and cycling studios and a café.

Preparation works have already started on site with the sports dome being demolished to make way for the state-of-the-art facility.

The main construction contract will be awarded to Willmott Dixon Construction following the market testing of 40 individual packages of work.