East Herts Council presses ahead with £22m Grange Paddocks redevelopment
Bishop's Stortford's new leisure centre will be built in a concrete bowl alongside existing facilities at Grange Paddocks.
The £22m complex will be constructed just south of the 50-year-old current buildings, which are now at the end of their working life, to ensure a smooth transfer of sport and leisure services.
The new facilities will comprise an eight-lane 25m pool with movable floor, a large teaching pool, spectator area, family changing village and group changing for schools.
There will also be a gym with 130-150 stations, two studios and a spin studio, a café and crèche. A 3G Astro pitch is also proposed.
The engineering required to safeguard the new structure from flooding was revealed at a meeting of the town council's environment and public amenities committee by Cllr Keith Warnell, who is also an East Herts Council member.
He was responding to a letter from Steven Dupoy, the district council's leisure and environment services manager, to update the committee on progress.
Once the new centre is complete, the old structure will be demolished and the land it occupies will be converted into sports pitches. A detailed planning application is expected this spring and the council aims to start construction in January 2020.
Cllr Warnell said: "I'm pleased to see this. There's been underinvestment in this town for some time. Grange Paddocks was built in the 1960s and looks it."
He warned that with development at Old River Lane and the transformation of Castle Park, backed by a £2m lottery grant, parts of the town would resemble a "building site for some time", but the alternative was for nothing to improve without such significant investment.
"It's great news for Bishop's Stortford, which will have a 50,000 population soon," said Cllr Warnell. "This is good news and we should stand up and shout it from the top of the castle mound."
East Herts Council's plans dovetail with a £4.6m pot of cash for sport available over the next seven years as part of planning conditions for the Stortford Fields and St Michael's Hurst housing estates.
A £1m grant to Herts and Essex High School for its new sports centre at Beldams Lane has already been agreed and £446,233 from St Michael's Hurst is ring-fenced for the town's rugby club, Cricketfield Lane sports trust and youth football club Bishop's Stortford Community FC.
In 2015 a study identified a potential gap in sporting provision across the town, exacerbated by the 6,000-plus population boom caused by the Bishop's Stortford North developments, which would cost £22.8m to plug.
The Section 106 cash from the Stortford Fields builders also includes £1.095m for a football ground and pavilion at Hoggate's Park.