A new multi-million pound Leisure Centre for Cranleigh is on the horizon but improvements to other centres across Waverley are delayed.

Cranleigh Leisure centre

Cllr Liz Townsend told her colleagues on the executive last night that the council would stand by the commitment made by the Tory administration in 2018 – for a new or improved Leisure centre in Cranleigh.

This is urgent due to the existing centre’s poor condition. WILL A NEW CRANLEIGH LEISURE CENTRE SOON BE ON ITS WAY TO VILLAGE WAY?

 She was disappointed that the predicted improvements to both Godalming and Farnham’s Centres would be postponed – and the contributions from developers’ 106 Agreements would go into the council’s reserves for the time being.

She said the delay would give the council time to assess the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on the borough’s leisure facilities.

Liz Townsend
Executive Liz Townsend

Cllr Townsend – the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development said she realises this was not the position the council had hoped it would be in when the original commitment for the borough’s leisure facilities was made.

We are very disappointed, but due to the condition of the Cranleigh facility, this project needs to go forward.

She said the other projects in Farnham and Godalming would progress. The council would begin to seek approval from the Secretary of State in partnership with Surrey County Council for the disposal of an area of land at Broadwater School to provide a car park to enable improvements to recommence for Godalming’s Leisure Centre in the future.

Cllr Julia Potts who announced the commitments to the borough’s leisure facilities shortly before the 2018 May elections, said although her group was disappointed at some delays it quite understood the reasons why.

“We know things are changing so quickly… but what do we do, we understand the rationale -even though I don’t like it.”

She spoke of her relief that the Cranleigh Project had not been taken off the table as it was in – “desperate need.” She was it was at the top of the council’s agenda and hoped it would progress over the coming months.

Deputy Leader Paul Follows said: “I think the Portfolio Holder would have had something to say to us if it had been removed!”

The Executive agreed unanimously to the Recommendation. 

That the Executive: 1.Notes that the investment in improvements in the facilities at Godalming and Farnham Leisure Centres are not being progressed;

2. Agrees that Officers progress with obtaining the Secretary of State’s approval, in partnership with Surrey County Council, for the disposal of an area of land at Broadwater School in Godalming to enable the development at Godalming Leisure Centre to recommence in the future; and,

3. Agrees that the multi-million-pound leisure investment project in Cranleigh continues at present but will be part of the Recovery Change & Transformation review of all corporate projects.

Was this a ruse by ‘Your Waverley’ to ensure that if Surrey does become a Unitary Authority that Waverley’s commitment to improving the borough’s leisure facilities doesn’t fall off the end of someone else’s the desk?

Background to the decision.

4. Cranleigh Leisure Centre Background 4.1 Following a commitment made by the Council in July 2018 for a multi-million-pound investment in leisure facilities in Cranleigh, work was undertaken by the Council’s consultants to engage with local landowners to identify the preferred location for a new Cranleigh Leisure Centre. 4.2 The scheme is based on current provision, including the main pool, teaching pool, gym and studio. However, the final design and facility mix will be determined at a later stage, to meet future demand and to maximise provision and revenue return. Project status 4.3 All options require significant investment and, as a result, an Investment Appraisal (business case) was developed for each around the feasibility of maintaining leisure provision in Cranleigh. Officers had identified an option for a positive return on investment. Given the magnitude of the impact of Covid-19, it is expected that the revenue assumptions made will now need to be re-visited. 4.4 A report was due to go to Executive on 7 April, to seek approval for progressing with a new build scheme. However, due to Covid-19 all corporate projects were put on hold to deal with emergency business. Project timescales 4.5 SLC has prepared an indicative delivery programme for the preferred option, in the centre of the car park, which is set out below; Work stream Period Pre-construction;  Prepare brief and procure design team  Appoint team, undertake surveys and specialist reports. Prepare outline design and consult stakeholders  Design up to detailed planning application including supporting documentation and formal consultation  Planning application period  Detailed design, discharge of planning conditions and construction information  Procure and appoint contractor 105 weeks Construction phase 1;  Construct new leisure centre  Operator fit out and staff training 64 weeks New facilities open 169 Page 27 weeks Construction phase 2:  Demolish existing leisure centre  Construct external works and additional car parking 16 weeks Total 185 weeks 4.6 It is important to note that these are only indicative timescales at this stage and are likely to change when the design is developed and the contract is procured. The risk to delaying work 4.7 Due to the age of the leisure centre and its ageing plant and structure, major maintenance and repair costs are now unavoidable. The centre is experiencing increasingly significant issues, which are forcing facility closures and have been heavily impacting services and the community since the beginning of 2020. 4.8 There were a number of unforeseen closures from January to March 2020, due to the failure of plant and roofing – prior to the forced government closure from 20 March to August 2020. The risk of further structural issues and potential pool plant failure is high, due to the age of the building. If there is a significant failure of the plant a partial facility closure may be necessary. 4.9 The longer the delay before further investment is made, the greater the investment that will ultimately be required simply to maintain the centre in Cranleigh. Independent building surveys have concluded that to sustain the current building and facilities as they are (with no improvements) will cost the Council c£6m over the next 5 years. 4.10 It is important to note that this maintenance work will offer no return on investment and further significant investment would be required to retain provision, as the original structure will not have been included in these works. Next steps 4.11 RCT programme to review all corporate projects and determine whether investments will be progressed, deferred or cancelled. 5. Relationship to the Corporate Strategy and Service Plan(s) 5.1 The leisure investments directly link with Waverley’s new Corporate Strategy and the vision to promote and sustain: a financially sound Waverley, with infrastructure and services fit for the future; high-quality public services accessible for all, including sports, leisure, arts, culture and open spaces; and a thriving local economy, supporting local businesses and employment. 5.2 The provision of quality leisure facilities in Farnham, Godalming and Cranleigh will directly facilitate the Council pledge to: encourage affordable access to sports and leisure facilities and the arts for all; improve leisure services across the borough, focusing on health inequalities in the borough and seeking to ensure that no area is disadvantaged; and improve facilities for young people. 5.3 Future investment in leisure facilities is based on a robust feasibility assessment that Page 28 offers value for money to the Council. 6. Implications of decision(s) 6.1 Resource (Finance, procurement, staffing, IT) The July 2018 approval of funds for the Farnham Leisure Centre and Godalming Leisure Centre projects remains, therefore no further funds are requested. The financing of this is as previously approved, using both S106 and developer contributions and capital receipts. Despite the loss of the climbing wall facility from the project, the proposed changes above ensure the improved management fee level is maintained and the business case remains feasible. Approval for funding for Cranleigh Leisure Centre will need to be taken to Executive and following that Council accordingly. 6.2 Risk management A comprehensive Risk Log is in place, which is monitored by the Leisure Investment Project Working Group and Leisure Investment Programme Board. 6.3 Legal The Legal Services team is supporting this programme of projects as part of the officers’ leisure investment working group and the Leisure Investment Programme Board. Should the Executive agree the recommendations, legal advice will be provided in respect of the renegotiation of any arrangements with Places Leisure under the current management contract, together worth any other implications arising from a decision to proceed with this project. 6.4 Equality, diversity and inclusion An Equality Impact Assessment has been completed for the potential closure of the creche, which concludes that the overall impact of the service closure is likely to be very low. 6.5 Climate emergency declaration The leisure centre developments are the opportunity to implement new energy efficiency options highlighted in the independent report to reduce the leisure centres carbon footprint. 7. Consultation and engagement 7.1 The leisure investments were approved by Council in July 2018 and have subsequently been to Executive Briefing and Community O&S. 8. Other options considered 8.1 The proposed scheme is based on the findings of the Indoor Leisure Facilities Strategy and increased need to meet future demand. 

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