On Monday (January 10), Rother District Council cabinet members are set to consider proposals to spend up to £50,000 to develop a new ‘realistic and achievable’ strategy on the authority’s leisure facilities.
According to council papers, the strategy would set out the next steps for leisure facilities in Bexhill, which are in need of significant refurbishment.
In a report, a council officer said: “The current contract with Freedom Leisure to operate Bexhill leisure facilities ends on 31 March 2024 and the Bexhill buildings need major refurbishment or replacement prior to a new contract.
“It is important that the council has a realistic and achievable strategy in place to ensure continuity of provision of leisure facilities that promotes health and well-being and an active lifestyle across Rother District.”
The spokesman added: “Failure to have a strategy in place may mean further council funding will be spent on maintaining old, inefficient buildings that may not meet the needs of residents and could mean sites cannot remain open.”
In 2020, the council formally suspended plans to replace Bexhill Leisure Centre with a larger, more modern facility as part of the wider redevelopment of the former Bexhill High School site in Down Road.
At the time, council leaders said the project — expected to cost around £15m — could not be justified in the face of the financial uncertainty surrounding covid. As a result, the council expected to pursue more modest refurbishments as an alternative plan.
However, the council says the building is now coming to the end of its ‘structural life’ and that patch repairs are no longer considered to be economically or environmentally efficient.
As a result, the council says a new strategy is needed.
If the proposals are approved, £50,000, to be drawn from money set aside for minor refurbishments at Bexhill Leisure Centre, would be spent on hiring external consultants.
These external firms would carry out market research and draft a Built Leisure Facility Strategy for the council’s consideration.