Lichfield District Council is working towards replacing the “limited lifespan” Friary Grange Leisure Centre with a new facility.
Stychbrook Park has been identified as the preferred site for the development for reasons including its closeness to the existing Friary Grange facilities, established use as a recreation site, location next to the A5129 and “relatively good” public transport links.
On Tuesday members of the council’s cabinet backed a proposal to appropriate the public open space for the new leisure centre.
More than 80 people objected to proposals to build the facility on Stychbrook Park during a public consultation held last year however. In total there were 118 responses to the consultation, including 17 who supported the use.
Deputy leader Iain Eadie said: “I’m sure many people would like to understand is it a done deal that the leisure centre will go onto Stychbrook Park? I’m certainly conscious of the views of many who say ‘That isn’t the right location – why are you not considering elsewhere?’
“Whilst we are here tonight asking you to support the appropriation we continue to look at the options for delivering the leisure centre. So while Stychbrook Park very much remains the council’s preferred location we are not closed, we are discussing other options and when we are ready to move forward we will come back and let everybody know.
“Tonight is very much a technical decision. We must within 12 months of carrying out consultation appropriate the land, so that should we need to use that land we are able to do so.
“Wherever the new leisure centre comes forward it shall be subject to a proper planning application and process and people will have the opportunity to comment. If they feel they wish to do so, they can raise their objections and that will be considered under a planning process.
“I’m sure many would have heard our leader, when he was interviewed on radio, making the commitment increasing the council’s funding support for the new leisure centre from £5m to £10m. That is recognising in the current climate as people recover from Covid, particularly in the leisure sector, the council will need to provide the funding to deliver this.”
Councillor Richard Cox said: “I‘m pleased to hear you say options are still open to other sites. If those options don’t come forward, by not processing tonight’s paper in terms of the appropriation we’re putting ourselves behind.
“I think it’s important we honour what was said that we’re going to provide a leisure centre. And that’s still on the table.”