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New Norfolk leisure centre set to cost £2m more than expected

PUBLISHED: 12:47 19 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:13 19 July 2019

An artist's impression of the exterior of the proposed Sheringham Leisure Centre. Image: NNDC

An artist's impression of the exterior of the proposed Sheringham Leisure Centre. Image: NNDC

Archant

A £2m question mark has been placed over a seaside town's new leisure centre, after it emerged the project is already largely over budget - with Brexit partly to blame.

Princess Diana unveiling a plaque at the opening of Splash swimming pool in Sheringham on 11 May, 1988. Photo: Archant LibraryPrincess Diana unveiling a plaque at the opening of Splash swimming pool in Sheringham on 11 May, 1988. Photo: Archant Library

Last November, North Norfolk District Council agreed to a £10m facility to replace Splash in Sheringham, and work to clear part of the site is already under way.

However, the council is set for crunch talks over the project's future next week, after it emerged the centre is set to cost £2m more than originally anticipated.

Should members agree to press forward with the new centre, which has been in part made possible by Sport England funding, the cost is forecast to soar to £12.7m - just over £2m more than original budget of £10.6m.

A report which goes before full council next week states a number of factors led this budget under cut, including the cost of initial ground works proving much dearer than anticipated.

Eric Seward, North Norfolk District Council cabinet member for finance. Picture: Courtesy of Eric SewardEric Seward, North Norfolk District Council cabinet member for finance. Picture: Courtesy of Eric Seward

The officer's report also says the potential impact of Brexit had led to bids from contractors to carry out the work also being higher than predicted.

On Wednesday, councillors will discuss next steps for the scheme, with a range of options including borrowing the additional £2m, reducing the project in scale to cut costs, or scrapping the project altogether.

Liberal Democrat Eric Seward, cabinet member for finance, said: "Clearly we agreed a budget and it is frustrating that we will need to up that, but this is still a scheme the council very much supports.

"It is frustrating for a number of reasons, especially as it is public money, but Splash is reaching the end of its life span and we want to make sure a facility is there for the people of Sheringham."

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Virginia Gay, cabinet member for leisure and a fellow Lib Dem councillor, added: "Obviously this is unfortunate but it is a project we are committed to and one people are very much looking forward to."

In the report, officers warn that trying to alter the building's current design could run the risk of losing the support of Sport England, which has pledged a grant of £1m towards the scheme.

The council will discuss the matter on Wednesday, July 24.

History of Splash

The Splash leisure centre, on Webourne Road in Sheringham, was opened on May 11, 1988, by Diana, the Princess of Wales.

Visiting the centre on its opening day, a huge crowd gathered to greet the princess and see the new facility.

Unlike its proposed replacement, the centre includes less conventional attributes, such as a splash pad, wave pool and water flume slide.

However, in order to secure Sport England funding, the replacement design takes a more traditional form, with the pool being required to comply with sporting regulations.

In December 2017, North Norfolk District Council agreed to the scheme - then expected to cost just shy of £10.7m - before planning permission was granted in November of last year.

To allow the existing facility to stay in use while construction is carried out, it was agreed to place the new building towards the front of the site. Work to clear this space is already under way.

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