Leisure bosses have hit back at criticism of their plans to replace Queen’s Park sports centre.
Chesterfield Borough Council’s executive member for leisure, culture and tourism Amanda Serjeant, and Mick Blythe, the council’s sports and leisure manager, spoke exclusively to the Derbyshire Times to defend their decision to build a new £8.5m centre on the site of the Queen’s Park annexe.
Last week angry sports users slammed the plans after the council revealed the three diving boards, football pitch and running track currently at Queen’s Park will not be replaced.
But this week Cllr Serjeant said residents will have a chance to have their say on what facilities they think the new centre should have, during consultation sessions in June.
She added: “It may be possible to achieve diving and we are working with the swimming association to look at teaching youngsters the safe way to dive.
“This could be done from the side of the pool.”
“People will have the chance to comment on different options and shape the facilities in the new centre,” she said.
Cllr Serjeant and Mr Blythe said the council was looking to provide a facility that would appeal to the whole community which would not necessarily need competition standard facilities.
Mr Blythe said: “We are looking at providing facilities for the majority of people using the centre.”
“These are exciting times. Whether we can or can’t have diving shouldn’t be the focus but what we should be doing is looking to satisfy most of our residents to the best possible level,” he said.
Cllr Serjeant said the new centre would have provision for people wanting to run and would also have a larger gym than the current Queen’s Park, as well as modern changing facilites.
Residents can also use alternative facilities nearby such as Tupton Hall school, where Chesterfield Athletics Club is based.
The old football pitch will be lost during the redevelopment but a 3G football pitch will be provided.
Cllr Serjeant said the cost of refurbishing the current site would be between £4m and £7m, opposed to the £8.5m in building a smaller fit for purpose centre while a new centre on the site of the annexe which is the same size as the current Queen’s Park Sports Centre would cost £13m.
Cllr Serjeant said: “People have asked if we should be spending this money or just stick with the old centre and keep putting money in to it but in the long run this option will save the council money. The current cost is not sustainable.”