THE APPLICATION to build Bromsgrove a new leisure centre was given the go ahead by the narrowest of margins.
The proposals were passed after four councillors voted for, three against and two abstained.
There was controversy in the run up to the planning meeting on Monday (December 7) about the new building not having a sports hall and it was only the deciding vote of chairman Coun Richard Deeming which got it over the line.
Philip Ganner, who was representing of the Save our Sports Hall campaign, claimed building a leisure centre without a sports hall contravened the Bromsgrove District Plan (BDP).
He said the Sport England Review, on which the council based its choice to demolish the existing sports hall, did not ‘permit the loss of the facility’ because there was not a surplus of alternatives with daytime use.
Coun Karen May said the sports hall was not in use 100 per cent of the time and was therefore not financially viable.
She said the decision to build the new centre was made on July 2 2014 so the meeting should have been about planning – not about whether the project should go ahead.
She said there had already enough facilities to substitute the loss of the sports hall.
Coun Hotham said considering the new leisure centre would include pools, there were also enough swimming facilities in Bromsgrove, so the same argument could have applied there.
He said the sports hall should be prioritised over facilities such as treatment rooms.
Coun Christine McDonald added it was ‘not too late to change our minds’ about demolishing the sports hall because most people would easily swap the climbing wall.
She said the decision to build without a sports hall should be deferred because an agreement with BAM – which is helping co-ordinate alternative facilities – has not yet been made.
Coun Macolm Glass said: “We don’t need a decision with BAM because there’s still plenty of space for those who want to play badminton.”
Coun Hotham said viability to build the new centre without a sports hall was still not proven.
He said alternative solutions did exist because the council could also consider using other companies which could provide a sports hall within the budget available.
Coun Chris Bloore, who had spoken against the plans to build a leisure centre without a sports hall, said afterwards: “Tonight is a tragedy for the people of Bromsgrove.
“This committee meeting highlighted the clear failings in this downgrading of our leisure centre.
“It is a decision that goes against our own proposed planning policy, without any deal with any other providers of a sports hall in place and one which leaves our children with a massive debt for a facility that doesn’t meet their needs or wishes of residents.
“The Conservative Party in Bromsgrove should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
“This isn’t the end for the campaign, we shall be looking at legal options open to us.”