Diss Swim and Fitness Centre is set for a major revamp, which could include a new stand-alone gym, as part of a £3 million package of improvements to leisure facilities across south Norfolk.
South Norfolk Council cabinet members agreed in principle on Monday to a raft of proposals aimed at ensuring its leisure provision is fit for the future and meets local needs, as well as attracting increased revenue with the aim of breaking even financially.
Subject to a fuller examination of the business case, the cabinet has given the go-ahead for a total expenditure of £3 million over the next two years on its three leisure centres - Diss, Long Stratton and Wymondham - and to help improve access to sporting facilities for rural residents away from the main market towns by supporting community partners.
The move follows a shift of responsibility for public health away from government to local authorities in April this year, and dovetails with the council’s aim to support health initiatives for the area’s ageing population while encouraging young people into positive activities which can help minimise childhood obesity levels.
At Diss, the council has given its officers the go-ahead to look for a suitable property for a stand-alone fitness suite, while the swim and fitness centre would be enhanced with improvements to the car park, changing facilities and plant room.
At Long Stratton Leisure Centre, the freehold of the building would be transferred for a nominal fee from Norfolk County Council into the ownership of South Norfolk Council enabling improvements to be made there; while Wymondham Leisure Centre would also be enhanced and expanded with a children’s soft play area and a cafe.
A more flexible use of current centre space is also being looked at, such as for film screenings or use by community groups, and the council hopes to maximise use of other potential venues by supporting schools and clubs to rent out their facilities, as well as providing mobile or outdoor gyms.
A major part of the package would be improving access to products and services with extended general swim times, an improved website and online booking/joining facilities, and automated entry systems at the centres.
Councillor David Bills, cabinet member for innovation and efficiency, described the proposals as “exciting”. He said the leisure centres were doing very well but had “amazing potential”. “We want to widen their appeal to get more people involved and interested in staying healthy.”
He said work had already happened in the background, such as improvements to plant rooms and equipment, and the council had worked to reduce overheads while increasing footfall and income, putting it in a better position to now implement the improvements.
The council’s Leisure Task Group will consider the proposals in detail and report back to Cabinet in December.