Sauna supporters for new pool offered an olive branch

Requests for a sauna as part of Littlehampton's new £15million leisure centre topped the wishlist in this month's public consultation.

Littlehampton Leisure Centre SUS-161018-094304001
Littlehampton Leisure Centre SUS-161018-094304001

Arun District Council gathered nearly 500 responses to its consultation between October 3 and 10, with 90 per cent in support of draft proposals.

Despite the overwhelming support, the project’s lack of a sauna, which earlier this year prompted a petition of more than 150 signatures in favour of including one in the centre’s design, remained the top omission.

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Council officers offered residents an olive branch at Monday’s cabinet meeting, announcing it would be a ‘provisional item’ as part of the tender process for the centre’s construction.

But its inclusion is far from assured, with cabinet member for leisure and amenities Paul Dendle doubtful of its merits.

“It is such a minority interest and I am not sure we should get the hopes up of users that we would have a sauna,” he said.

Mr Dendle has previously said sauna at the current site, in Sea Road, could be gifted to another venue.

On Monday, he said there were other sites across the district to meet demand and he questioned whether the council could negotiate special rates for existing users.

The consultation’s other top requests included more spectator seating, a splash park, 50 metre pool and concern registered over the loss of existing trees.

Including a splash park and 50 metre pool would push the building size and costs too high officers noted.

Designs had been updated, however, to increase the number of seats from 20 to 58.

Any loss of trees would be mitigated through a planning application.

The application is expected to be submitted next week, with councillors due to consider it in February.

If permission is granted, construction could start in summer.

The new leisure centre will be built north of the existing site, with the current facility remaining open while construction takes place.

Arun hopes it will be successful in obtaining a grant of £1million from Sport England to assist with the build costs.

Arun leader Gill Brown praised officers for their work on the major project to date, adding it was ‘really exciting times’.