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New community, sports and swimming centre at Bransbury Park gets thumbs up

Exciting plans for a brand new swimming pool, sports centre and community hub have been given the go ahead by Portsmouth City Council after the majority of residents supported the idea.

Results of a city-wide consultation on plans for a new sports facility were considered by council’s Culture, Leisure and Economic Development portfolio on 5 February where the decision was made to go ahead with officer recommendations to approve progressing the plans.

At the end of last year, the council asked residents to have their say on proposals to invest money in a brand new facility in the south east of the city. The council’s preferred location was Bransbury Park, on the site of the present sports and community facilities.

Money had been set aside for essential maintenance at Eastney Swimming Pool and Wimbledon Park Sports Centre. But this would not cover improvements to encourage new customers, or deal with accessibility issues at Eastney and would have only added a few years’ extra life to both facilities. Therefore, officers were asked to explore options and the idea of a new centre was considered, alongside the alternative of rebuilding both existing centres on their current sites.

1800 responses were received with a clear majority (63%) saying they agree with the proposal to build a new combined facility at Bransbury Park. Just 22% disagreed with the idea.

The council will now have further discussions with users of the existing community centre at Bransbury Park, along with the users of both Eastney Pool and Wimbledon Park Sports Centre, to decide the right mix of facilities. This could include a new gym, sports hall and two pools, including a learner pool, as well as meeting rooms and other facilities needed to replace the existing community centre. Specialist consultants have already been brought in and it is believed the new centre would cost around £12.5 million.

Cllr Steve Pitt, the council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, said: “We made a promise that we would bring forward plans to either completely refurbish, rebuild or replace Eastney Pool and Wimbledon Park Sports Centre. It was important that the public decide which option they preferred and there is very strong support for combining these facilities into a brand new centre at Bransbury Park. We want to reassure residents that this will not involve the loss on any of the existing grassed areas and plans will need to address concerns over parking.”

“The pandemic has made it more important than ever to invest in sport and leisure and get more people active. We had to look at our current provision and make challenging financial decisions to invest in the future so we have fit-for-purpose and accessible facilities for all our residents to use. It is clear that a co-location of the community, sports and swimming centres into one new facility is both the public’s and the council’s preferred option. I am delighted that we have been able to allocate sufficient funding in the Council’s Capital Budget to ensure that this exciting project can be delivered, subject to further discussions with Sport England. I hope Full Council support these once in a generation plans.”

£10.5 million capital funding has been allocated for the project in the council’s budget proposals which are being considered on 9 February. The council are also hoping to bid for Sport England funding to help with the project. No decisions have been made on the futures of Eastney Swimming Pool or Wimbledon Park Sport Centre.

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