Godalming resident Mr Daniel Kuszel wants answers from ‘Your Waverley’ on leisure provision.
“Although the Council’s discussion of a new leisure centre at Cranleigh is welcome, £20 million is almost four times the price of the leisure centre built in Godalming only 9 years ago.
Why is the proposed price so expensive?
Additionally, it has been known by the authority since 2018 that Godalming Leisure Centre has vastly outperformed its estimated revenue, with the facility significantly oversubscribed. Additional facilities are needed for the centre. If Cranleigh is to benefit from a new leisure centre for £20 million, Haslemere enjoying the benefit of 2 leisure centres, why is no money available to expand Godalming Leisure Centre, a town twice the size of Haslemere that has already exceeded its allocation of new housing under the Council’s Local Plan 11 years ahead of schedule?”
Councillor Liz Townsend, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Leisure and Dunsfold Park, responded:
“ We as an administration are very pleased to be in a position to present a viable business proposal for a new Cranleigh Leisure Centre. The centre is 52 years old and has far exceeded its life expectancy and we are, therefore, at a point where the Council has to make a critical decision regarding the future of leisure provision in the Cranleigh area.
The cost of a new facility was based on guidance from consultants, Sport England and local leisure operators. Cranleigh was a larger site with more facilities than Godalming.
She said significant changes had occurred since building Godalming Leisure Centre in 2012, so a direct comparison did not give an accurate picture. The challenges of increased construction costs (labour and materials), a global pandemic, a corporate commitment and responsibility to reduce carbon emissions had increased costs.
The Council must consider its entire leisure stock and prioritise where it spent money to ensure that facilities met the demands of local communities.
“Cranleigh Leisure centre is over 50 years old and Farnham Leisure Centre is over 40 years old and as you highlighted Godalming is only 9 years old. However, a redevelopment of the Godalming Leisure Centre, to accommodate public demand, is still very much in mind and we await a decision from the Department for Education regarding the release of school land to enable the project to move forward.”
The pandemic had substantially impacted the leisure industry, and the Council needed to review all business decisions to ensure projects remained viable. Once the Council had received D of E approval, it would conduct a review.