Felixstowe: Great opportunities to improve outdated leisure buildings

Felixstowe Leisure Centre.

Felixstowe Leisure Centre. - Credit: Archant

NOTHING has been ruled out, and nothing ruled in, as experts prepare today for potentially the biggest shake-up in leisure in the Felixstowe area for more than three decades.

Brackenbury Sports Centre at Felixstowe.

Brackenbury Sports Centre at Felixstowe. - Credit: Archant

Community leaders stress that no decisions have been made yet and no plans are on the table, but are indicating that buildings and services are outdated and could be in line for major changes.

Felixstowe councillor Andy Smith - "fresh opportunities"

Felixstowe councillor Andy Smith - "fresh opportunities" - Credit: Archant

It has been revealed that projects could be as radical as demolishing both Felixstowe Leisure Centre and Brackenbury Sports Centre and replacing them with a new multi-million pound state-of-the-art complex.

It has been stressed that whatever plans are brought forward as part of the options for the future, the aim is not to remove any of the existing sports provision – but to improve it and add to it to cater for the growing interest in health and leisure and take advantage of an industry that has become big business.

Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal cabinet member for leisure and economic development, said the first move would be to appoint a major league company as a leisure development partner. No proposals were on the table yet – and none expected to come forward for at least two years.

He said: “At this stage, I am not going to rule anything in, and not going to rule anything out.

“The development partner may bring forward plans this council does not like and there is no necessity to go with those plans at all. At the end of the day we are continuing to look to improve our facilities.”

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Demolishing Felixstowe Leisure Centre and Brackenbury might be the most extreme potential option, with at the other end of the scale simply updating what is already in place.

The company chosen as development partner will be expected to provide much of the cash needed for new facilities and to access grants from major sporting and lottery organisations.

David Gallagher, head of commercial partnerships and strategic commissioning, said: “The mix of facilities we have got at the moment is very outdated. Going forward, there are lots of people out there who we could work with that could give us ideas and a lot of those could mean significant increased income. The market is at its height and there are lots of opportunities available.”

Deputy council leader Andy Smith said: “It essential that what we end up with is not more of the same in a nicer building – the opportunities here are potentially very significant to provide something new for a new generation.”

The first stage would be to carry out an in depth survey of all the leisure facilities – council and private – across the district.