Plans for new Lichfield leisure facilities
Frequently asked questions
A new leisure facility for Lichfield
Is the council committed to building a new leisure centre?
Yes, we are committed to delivering a replacement swimming pool and will be working on how and where this can be built as a top priority. We don’t yet know the shape of the centre, and where it will be located, but we will share our plans as our work progresses.
Cabinet has recommended to budget to borrow £5 million to help build a new facility, but this will only fund a swimming pool. Without additional finance we can’t guarantee this funding alone will give the community what it wants from a new centre, such as a learner pool, a new gym and sports hall.
If we seek to deliver a larger leisure centre, we will need to source additional financing from other avenues (such as a private investor or grant funding).
When will the new leisure centre be built and opened?
We can’t say at this stage, but we have been looking at Sports England models, and know that a centre can take up to five years to build, depending on its location, scale and the funding needed to deliver it.
If we seek to deliver a larger leisure centre than the current £5 million we will budget to borrow, we will need to source additional financing from other avenues (such as a private investor or grant funding), which could extend the project timescales.
We will share the timeline as our work progresses.
How will the new leisure centre be funded?
Cabinet has recommended to budget to borrow £5 million to help build a new facility, but this will only fund a swimming pool. If we seek to deliver a larger leisure centre then we will need to source additional financing from other avenues to add to the current £5 million.
There are various options open to us – the council could enter into partnership with a private operator to part fund a new centre or apply for grant funding. We will explore all these options and more as part of our appraisal and select the option that offers best value for public money and delivers the best facilities at the best price.
Where will the new leisure centre be located?
We have completed an initial report that recommends Stychbrook Park in north Lichfield as the preferred location for the new leisure facility. A number of questions have been raised about the choice of this site.
Why not build the new facility on the vacant land in the city centre?
The vacant Birmingham Road Gateway site was considered as part of the initial appraisal sites. The development of a new leisure centre is not wholly in accordance with the Lichfield City Centre Masterplan and Lichfield City Neighbourhood Plan, which include the provision of key facilities for the city with the overall development establishing the main entry point to the city centre from the railway station and the south.
The location of heritage assets close to the site and views from the Railway Station to Lichfield Cathedral constrain the development capacity of the site.
Introducing a new leisure centre into the site is likely to significantly change the overall development mix of the site and could have a significant negative impact on the scheme’s overall viability.
What alternative sites have been considered?
Stychbrook Park has been chosen following a high-level review of eight sites in Lichfield, which also included: Stowe Fields, Shortbutts Park, Saddlers Wood, Leamonsley Park, Birmingham Road Gateway, Darnford Park and Beacon Park.
The report sets out why Stychbrook Park is the preferred choice for the proposed new-build leisure centre.
Located just off Eastern Avenue, the 3.47 hectare park is close to Friary Grange Leisure Centre, it has ample space for the new facility while retaining a large amount of green space and an outdoor sports pitch. The land is not within the green belt, a conservation area or at risk of flooding, and the ecological and loss of public open space impact of the proposed development is likely to be lower than for the other open space options.
Will building on Stychbrook Park have negative impacts?
Local concerns include the loss of green space, traffic issues on already busy roads and issues for neighbouring houses with noise pollution, light pollution and traffic congestion.
All of these aspects will be dealt with through the planning process, which includes consultation with local residents and statutory consultees; if the council determines that’s Stychbrook Park is the preferred site.
The site assessment indicated that the ecological impact at Stychbrook would be lower than for the other open space options. The large site creates the potential to distance the centre from neighbouring houses and allows for the retention of the majority of the public open space.