Thursday 22 February 2024
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Diverted footpath delays planned extension to leisure centre

Ashfield District Council must submit another application addressing issues with a diverted public footpath before the expansion of Hucknall Leisure Centre can progress.

Members of the authority’s planning committee approved the council’s own plans to extend the popular fitness hub, bringing with it a second swimming pool in addition to the revamped gym – which is already complete.

However, the committee heard an objection from Nottinghamshire County Council’s rights of way team, which confirmed the development “should not commence” until a rights of way issue is addressed.

Councillors were told a separate application must be lodged to address the diverting or stopping of the on-site public footpath, which passes close to the existing leisure centre buildings in the Linby Road site.

Once this application has been submitted and approved, Ashfield District Council will be able to push ahead with the extension.

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Confirming the news and outlining the council’s next steps, Mick Morley, the authority’s development team manager, said: “There is a public right of way [through the site] that goes around the buildings, very tight to the buildings.

“It is affected by where the actual extension is going to be, so it does need diverting. That is unfortunately what has come to light in the past few weeks, so we need to go through this procedure.

“We can deal with the application today and grant planning permission, but a separate application needs to be submitted under the Town and Country Planning Act, the Highways Act or directly through the Department for Transport.

“There are procedures available but it would be illegal to [progress without the separate application].”

Members of the committee unanimously approved the wider redevelopment of the leisure centre, with councillors told work is ongoing within the council to plan the next steps for the separate application.

Councillor Phil Rostance (Con), who represents Hucknall West, sits on the planning committee and was recently hired into an officer role working within the county council’s executive authority.

Speaking in the meeting, he said: “Credit where credit is due, big thanks go to the administration and the authority for following through with this plan.

“Hucknall is in desperate need of the new pool and this is exactly what this will provide, so I’m in full support of this.

“I’ll do everything I can within my powers [at County Hall] to help push forward with this rights of way issue at Nottinghamshire County Council.

“The building itself won’t win any prizes for grand designs, but its functionality and what it will provide for the people of Hucknall is absolutely fantastic.”

Council documents state the building will include solar PV panels, providing the ‘opportunity to utilise renewable energy’.

Energy from the panels will be used to power essential building demands including lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

The upgraded centre will also feature electric vehicle charging points.

In February the council confirmed its upgraded leisure centre will become “more inclusive”, offering sensory equipment in its swimming pools.

Concessionary rates for ‘priority’ groups will continue and construction works will include apprenticeships, work placements and volunteering opportunities for Ashfield residents.

It will be operated by the authority’s existing leisure provider Everyone Active, and comes as part of a wider £22.5 million investment into leisure services.

This includes the multi-million pound Kirkby Leisure Centre, which is currently under construction, and improvements to Lammas Leisure Centre in Sutton.

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