‘Your Waverley’ has agreed – with some reluctance – to dump plans for leisure-centre improvements in Farnham and Godalming in favour of building a multi-million-pound leisure centre in Cranleigh.
The centre may be sited in the Village Way car park close to the existing centre and when ‘Your Waverley’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee discussed the project this week there was all-round relief that an end to Cranleigh being the poor relation in the borough’s leisure stakes could be coming to an end.
Chairman Cllr Kevin Deanus said:
“Just to keep the existing leisure centre safe and workable would cost us £6m over the next 5 years. Which would just be throwing good money after bad. That should serve as a useful reminder to us all.”
Cranleigh had a strong supporter in Farnham Cllr Jerry Hyman who said he could never understand why the condition of the Cranleigh facilities had been allowed to get so bad.
“It’s nice to see that the people of Cranleigh – like us in Farnham – who have endured road chaos on our streets and with its high street constantly being dug up causing havoc will finally have some good news. Particularly after all the building-work, they have been put through.
However, he wondered about the timing and the wording on the officers’ report saying…?
‘It is expected that a few assumptions that were made will now have to be revisited.”
He assumed this was a caveat to the amount of time it would take? He believed it was obvious that the project, whilst being thought about, may not go ahead for 4/5 years as there was a lengthy process to go through.
However, although there was now real hope for Cranleigh – what if Waverley didn’t exist any more would it be reliant on Surrey County Council loving the people of Cranleigh?”
He called for a realistic timetable for the project. – “I would like to know and so would the residents of Cranleigh.`’
Cllr Deanus assured the committee that was why it was top of the council’s agenda.
“I want to ensure this project doesn’t fall off a cliff and we lose control.”
Leisure Manager Kelvin Mills was as keen as everyone to get on with the project – saying “we want leisure facilities fit for the future as much as you do.’ But, post-COVID who knows what the leisure market will be like in future. However, given the time it takes for tender and other work it gives enough lead time to establish a sustainable business model. Officers would look at the facility-mix in the light of the COVID pandemic’s impact.
Cllr Deanus warned: “We will be keeping you on your toes on this one we can assure you.”
Another sigh of relief came from Cllr Mary Foryszewski. She said she had feared that Cranleigh’s new centre was destined to become a COVID casualty and was thrilled that the new Administration had ensured it would not.