The future of Friary Grange Leisure Centre
Lichfield District Council and Staffordshire County Council release joint statements in relation to the closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre in April 2020.
Cllr Philip White, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Learning and Employability, commented:
“Earlier this year Staffordshire County Council served twelve months’ notice on Lichfield District Council to end the joint user agreement for Friary Grange Leisure Centre. This meant a new agreement needed to be established for public use of the leisure centre, which would also support The Friary School’s ambition to become an academy.”
Cllr Liz Little, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Recycling, commented:
“We worked hard with the county council to try to create a revised agreement for Friary Grange Leisure Centre, but unfortunately the age, condition and investment required in the building became an emerging issue. It was clear that a new agreement would not represent good value for council tax payers. To keep the building open, investment of over £440,000 to address urgent issues including the roof, electrics and boiler would be required. This investment would only serve to keep the doors open for a finite time, and not offer any enhancements that users would benefit from. An investment of a further £2 million to bring the facility up to modern standards would be required, and this sum could significantly increase following full structural surveys.
“Because of the situation, on 9 July the council’s Cabinet agreed to work with Freedom Leisure to withdraw from the management of Friary Grange Leisure Centre by April 2020. This means from 26 April 2020 the centre, including the gym, squash courts, public spaces and swimming pool will close to the public under the management of Lichfield District Council and Freedom Leisure. We know this will come as a blow to all members, customers and clubs that use the leisure centre and we will be working to signpost them to other nearby facilities, including Burntwood Leisure Centre.
“All gym customers will be offered the chance to transfer to Burntwood Leisure Centre which has a state of the art gym, and there are other closer gyms, so we are confident gym users will be able to find another facility locally. We are also confident a large percentage of occasional pool users will be able to use the facilities at Burntwood Leisure Centre, even if it is a slightly longer drive. However, we know the closure of the pool will affect users who cannot drive, and clubs who use it on a regular basis. Together with Freedom Leisure, we will work with the clubs as a priority to try to help them to relocate to other nearby facilities, either within or slightly outside the district, and thank them for their understanding.
“We have also been reassured by the school that the sports hall and sports pitches, including the synthetic pitch, will still be available for community use outside school hours after April 2020, through a direct relationship with the school, which is positive.
“Making sure our local residents have local opportunities to keep fit and healthy remains a priority for us - whether that’s through facilities we provide directly, or through working with partners. We are now working up our options, following the decision to withdraw from Friary Grange, to ensure we can meet our commitments and local people have access to good local facilities in years to come.”
Cllr Philip White, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Learning and Employability, continued:
“We recognise and support the difficult decision Lichfield District Councillors have had to make in relation to Friary Grange Leisure Centre and are very supportive of their effort to look at a longer term sustainable leisure solution for local residents.”
We have put together a set of frequently asked questions about what this means for leisure centre users.