No reason to demolish old leisure centre

Don’t demolish it, keep old pool

I was relieved to read (Gazette, November 19) that at the council meeting held on November 14, the decision to build a new leisure centre on the current Sea Road site had been ‘rubber stamped’.

There are of course so many valid reasons why the existing site is the most logical one, some of which include for instance convenience of access ie being on a regular bus route and with the future possibility of the re-routing of the 700 coastliner service along Sea Road.

Furthermore the current site has ample vehicular parking areas well away from the town centre and other heavily congested built-up areas.

Also being located so close to the sea, the air quality is excellent, especially when compared with that of the sites favoured by some, ie to the north of Littlehampton where the air quality could be adversely affected by vehicular exhaust emissions from the heavily congested A259 and A27.

However, I profoundly disagree with Arun District Council’s and the county council’s proposals to demolish the existing leisure centre and 25-metre swimming pool and replace same with a new leisure centre and 25-metre pool.

Despite the well known expression that we are currently living in a so called ‘throw away society’, I think the proposal to replace the existing well-built and fully functioning leisure centre which is only just over 30 years old is grossly irresponsible. My question to our councillors is, would any of you be prepared to have a new house built for yourself knowing that it would only last for 30 years?

The fact is that the three main components of the existing leisure centre ie the main 25-metre pool, the children’s pool and the fitness room (gym) are fully functional and equipped and there is absolutely no reason why they should need to be replaced for many years.

It is on record that in order to fund the Tory council’s current proposals to build a new leisure centre it would need to ‘borrow’ between £15m and £18m. But doesn’t this proposal clash directly with the central Tory government’s five-year policy of austerity and advice to councils throughout the country to curb their spending and borrowing? Bearing in mind that approximately two thirds of the cost of a new building is absorbed by the actual structure ie foundations, drainage, floors, walls windows, roof etc, this fact alone provides a strong argument against the building of a new leisure centre.

I am certainly not alone in thinking that the most practical and cost effective solution to the problem therefore would be to adapt, extend and generally improve the existing leisure centre as follows:

1. Demolish and replace the existing temporary sub-standard sports dome and replace same with a state of the art sports hall built onto the western end of the existing two storey block.

2. Remove existing unsightly moss covered, faded toxic asbestos roof and vertical panelling to main block and replace same with a new industrial type of corrugated aluminium roofing enamelled in a dark brown colour to match that of the adjacent admin block roof. This would then enable solar panelling to be fitted which could substantially help to reduce the energy costs of the premises.

3. Redesign and improve the existing dining area to provide a restaurant type facility similar to that carried out at the Felpham Leisure Centre.

4. Improve the existing changing rooms with new floor and wall tiling and new lockers etc. Taking into account the substantial savings as mentioned above on the structural costs I am confident that my proposal to adapt and substantially improve the existing Sea Road Littlehampton Leisure Centre could be carried out at approximately ‘one third’ of the estimated cost of the new replacement leisure centre.

Furthermore I would venture to suggest that the cost of my above proposal could even be met from the council’s reserve fund, thus avoiding the necessity of borrowing the enormous sums proposed by our council at the expense of the taxpayer.

Food for thought!

John Kerry

Emmabrook Court

Sea Road, Rustington