Leisure centre revamp to go ahead
The major revamp of a Cardiff leisure centre has been given the go-ahead despite a last minute attempt to defer the decision.
Cardiff council’s cabinet members agreed to approve upgrades to Pentwyn Leisure Centre at a meeting on Thursday, June 22.
The approval of the plans, subject to a consultation exercise, means the site will benefit from the installation of a new swimming pool, a new fitness gym, a 3G pitch and a café.
However, the approved plans will also take away community meeting spaces at the centre and the new pool will be 1m deep, 8m wide and 20m in length – five metres less than what was originally proposed for the length.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats group at Cardiff Council, Cllr Rodney Berman, suggested that some residents felt short-changed.
Although a part of him welcomed the plans coming forward, he added: “There are concerns out there… in particular whether the pool is a good enough replacement for the facilities they have had in the past.”
The scheme will also see a part of the building rented out to Cardiff Rugby exclusively. As part of this deal, members of the community will be able to book out some of the rooms owned by the club as meeting spaces.
The cabinet member for culture, parks and events, Cllr Jennifer Burke also said that the current state of the plans was the “best solution” that the local authority could have landed with in the circumstances.
Plans to revamp the leisure centre, operated by Greenwhich Leisure Limited (GLL), have been in discussion for over two years and during that time there was a real risk that the option of a new swimming pool might have been discounted due to increasing energy bills and construction costs.
The leader of the council, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: “What I will say is that the cabinet member and officers have done a remarkable job in coming up with a solution which I think… does speak to the overall needs and demands of that community in a situation where there was a considerable risk that the swimming pool could not be continued.”
Cllr Berman, who is also a member of the council’s economy and culture scrutiny committee, argued that there should have been a consultation with members of the community before any plans were approved.
The scrutiny committee discussed this possibility at a meeting on Tuesday, June 20 and it recommended that an option of deferring the decision be considered by cabinet.
Cllr Berman said at the cabinet meeting: “If you just agree that you are going to approve the scheme… that doesn’t give the community the confidence that it is a proper consultation.
“If you want to go and say to the community that you do want to listen to what they want… you would decide to defer making a decision to approve the scheme.”
He also said that a consultation could take place quickly and would not have to hinder the timing of the development too much.
Cllr Berman added: “I would urge you think again. Defer the decision to approve the scheme and do the consultation first.”
However, the cabinet member and leader of the council made the point that they were of a mind to approve the leisure centre upgrades on the day, with Cllr Burke adding that she didn’t want to wait too long as “costs continue to spiral.”
A public consultation will now be undertaken and the council said that potential changes would be considered within the limits of the approved budget.
Group leader of the Conservatives at Cardiff Council, Cllr Adrian Robson said: “I am pleased to see this progressing.
“It has been stuck in the mud a little bit… at the end of the day the people of Pentwyn and those nearby deserve a leisure centre they can use.”
The scheme in full will include:
A new 20m x 8m pool, heated by a ground source heat pump
A new cafeteria
A new fitness gym on the ground floor
A new full-sized 3G pitch and mini pitch
A refurbished family-changing facility
A new hall and external space which could be leased to a third partner – potentially to create an area for padel tennis on site
Roof-mounted solar panels
Work on site could begin as soon as autumn this year, with some works, including pitches, the fitness centre and changing rooms, completed in early 2024.
by BBC LDRS reporter
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