Bury St Edmunds: new leisure centre a step closer

1 November 2018, 08:12 | Updated: 1 November 2018, 08:21

Artist's impression of WWD in BSE

It's been agreed that more detailed plans should be worked up for new state-of-the-art leisure facilities in Bury St Edmunds.

The Western Way Development would also see lots of different public services grouped together on one site.

Councillors there like the look of the outline plans - so they've backed proposals to draw up a detailed business case to bring new leisure facilities, health, education and other services together with the commercial sector in one place.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council say it is part of a long term vision for the area and would also attract investment and bring jobs, potentially opening within the next five years.

The scheme would be an investment from a range of partners and it's estimated it would cost around £100 to £125 million.

Councillors agreed the proposals should only go ahead if the final business case shows that there is a workable highways plan, the finances stack up and the project at least breaks even for the Council as a developer. The Council will also look at external funding and other sources of finance.

The current leisure centre and pool, which needs millions of pounds of improvements in the next 10 years before having to be rebuilt anyway, could be moved within the site to integrate with health services, providing extra parking and new facilities.

The plans also mean the current leisure centre would stay open while the new bigger and better one is developed, eventually releasing land for much needed student accommodation and parking.

Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that councillors unanimously backed these proposals going forward for more detailed work. 

"This is an exciting opportunity to deliver services in a much more joined up way while regenerating this area of Bury St Edmunds to improve the health, education and prosperity of our residents. This is nationally ground breaking and brings public and private partners together. 

"Evidence shows where you put education, health, leisure and other public services together they achieve more than the sum of their parts. It is much more than bricks and mortar and where people sit. It is how we work together and make it much easier for people to access services. 

"Partners have already indicated their willingness to be part of these plans and help progress them, with health colleagues in particular already indicating they would like to move. We already work closely with partners in West Suffolk House, sharing offices and expertise, and this is the logical next step."

“This has been a long term ambition and part of the master plan for the site. It is obvious that doing nothing is not an option and we have the opportunity to not only transform local services but invest in new and improved leisure facilities for the community. 

"It also means we can keep leisure facilities open while the new ones are being developed. I welcome the Council’s decision to support us driving forward and developing a detailed business case that will be considered next year.”