£4m project to boost Wymondham, Diss and Long Stratton leisure centres - with Wymondham set to benefit from the lion’s share
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012
A major council investment of more than £4m will be poured into south Norfolk leisure centres in a bid to transform them into community hubs.
The South Norfolk Council venture will see £4.15m invested in the Wymondham, Diss and Long Stratton centres - making second-rate changing rooms and oversubscribed classes a thing of the past.
The Wymondham facility, on Norwich Road, will receive the lion's share of the funding, with £3m allocated to revamp the popular centre and expand its facilities.
It will see the gym treble in size, with the number of exercise stations soaring from 36 to 100, an upgrade to the wet area changing rooms, and a new cafeteria and sandwich bar, spa area with a pedicure and manicure bar and children's soft play area.
But despite the comprehensive package of upgrades, the site, which was built in two phases in 1993 and 1999, will not expand in size and no parking spaces will be lost - with just a two-floor glass extension and the new cafe by the existing entrance marking the changes.
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Councillor David Bills, cabinet member for innovation and efficiency, said that it was a 'very exciting time' and one of the council's largest investments in the last few years.
'As a council, we recognise the importance of providing quality leisure facilities which will help ensure our residents become active now and remain active in the future. Our ultimate aim is to provide appealing yet affordable leisure facilities than can be used by the whole community to support the health and wellbeing of all our residents,' he said.
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A new swipe card system and online booking process will also be introduced to allow members to bypass queues at reception.
Although the council accepted that disruption from the nine-month project, which will begin in June, is inevitable, they insisted that it will be kept to a minimum, with other leisure centres prepared to accommodate members.
Sandra Dineen, chief executive of the council, said: 'We would like to see the centres become somewhere that families can go - even if they are not doing the same activity at the same time, somewhere they can go for the same period of time and find something they would like to do.'
A jobs boost for the town is set to accompany the work, with more than 15 new roles in the centre expected and two or three more from indirect employment in the area.
Russell Boulton, principal at Wymondham High Academy, which is next to the leisure centre, said: 'Wymondham High is delighted to support the investment of £3m in the leisure centre. The improved facilities will greatly benefit our students as well as the wider community and encourage both fitness and wellbeing.'
While most of the work is interior adjustments and therefore does not need planning permission, an application covering the additional spaces at the front of the building will be submitted in March.
Meanwhile, the remaining £1.15m will be distributed between the Diss and Long Stratton centres, with work on the changing rooms and reception area in Diss set to begin in March and improvements to the Long Stratton facility likely to begin next year.
Council bosses said that, although still a pipe dream, plans for a brand new multi-million pound leisure centre in Diss were a possibility.
A meeting is being held at Wymondham Leisure Centre to discuss the plans on Thursday, February 12 from 1pm to 9pm.
To let us know what you think about the work, contact reporter Lauren Cope on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07584 311473.