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Land at Carn Brea Leisure Centre in Pool is to be sold off to fund rebuild

By West Briton  |  Posted: October 31, 2013

By Beverley Coumbe

Architects Burke Rickhards' impression of how the rebuilt Carn Brea Leisure Centre could look if  Cornwall Council secures a deal to sell off part of the 17-acre site in Pool  to developers. The council has confirmed it is in talks with developers about the proposal.

Architects Burke Rickhards' impression of how the rebuilt Carn Brea Leisure Centre could look if Cornwall Council secures a deal to sell off part of the 17-acre site in Pool to developers. The council has confirmed it is in talks with developers about the proposal.

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CARN Brea Leisure Centre is to be demolished and rebuilt using funds from selling off its athletics track.

Cornwall Council has confirmed it is in talks with developers, including a supermarket and other retailers, to sell land, including the track, at the 17-acre site.

Portfolio holder for finance and resources, Councillor Alex Folkes, said it was speaking to two key developers but looking for an overall scheme that would not cost it any money, rather than just the cheapest option.

He told the West Briton: "Without this sort of deal we will struggle to maintain and keep up our range of sporting facilities. The centre will be rebuilt on the same footprint and will provide facilities for 15 to 20 years."

The deal, which is part of a £300 million regeneration project for Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR), is also crucial to the future siting of the athletics track.

Three potential sites – Camborne Science and International Academy, Redruth School and Richard Lander School in Truro – are being considered by the council's portfolio advisory committee on Wednesday, with a final decision to be taken by the council's Cabinet at the end of November.

Alan Rowling, chairman of Cornwall Athletic Club, is calling for the track to remain in the CPR area, saying moving it to Truro would reduce access for hundreds of people in the far west of the county.

The deal is being seen as a lifeline for the rundown leisure facility, which opened in 1974. It closed in 1999 and reopened a year later, run by the Carn Brea Leisure Centre Trust.

Backing the council's move to sell its land to fund the rebuild, chairman of the trust, Colin Rowe, said: "The last decade hasn't been without challenges for the trust. With the building about to enter its 40th year of operation, the opportunity to rebuild and modernise the centre comes at a critical time.

"It is no secret that the building is fast approaching the end of its lifespan and this project gives the trust the chance to secure its future and deliver something very special for the community."

If approved, the plans include a new eight-lane swimming pool, expanded gym and fitness studios, a coffee shop and changing rooms.

If the scheme is backed by the Cabinet, it is hoped work would begin on the project within two years.

Trust aims to look at its options

THE Royal Duchy of Cornwall Athletics Track, is the only county standard and eight-lane track in Cornwall, and has been run, minus any subsidies, by Carn Brea Leisure Centre Trust since 2006.

It was opened 21 years ago by the local MP, Sebastian Coe.

The trust said the track, as with the leisure centre, is now nearing the end of its lifespan and no longer viable without significant investment.

Colin Rowe, the trust’s chairman, saidadded: “We have propped the track up financially for many years and although we’re immensely proud of its roots being at Carn Brea, we see the future of athletics in Cornwall at a location where it will be more widely used and more appropriately funded.”

Cornwall Council has identified three potential sites for the track – Camborne Science and International Academy, Redruth School and Richard Lander School in Truro.

The council’s portfolio advisory committee will be considering all three at its meeting on WednesdayNovember 6. Its recommendation will then be discussed by the Cabinet on November 27, when a final decision on where the track is to be relocated is expected to be made.

Mr Rowe said: “The council and trust are both committed to finding a suitable location within Camborne, Pool or Redruth (CPR) as our first choice but if this isn’t possible the trust would accept a solution outside of CPR in order that the future of both the leisure centre and athletics track can be secured for the long-term future and benefit of the community.”

Cornwall Council has confirmed that any new track would be built and operational before the existing track at Carn Brea is closed and redeveloped.

Breathing new life into the area

HOPES of rebuilding the Carn Brea Leisure Centre are part of a wider regeneration scheme to breath new life into Pool, bringing much needed jobs and leisure opportunities.

Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR), is the largest conurbation in the county, which is subject to a major £300 million regeneration programme, which includes the £27 million Camborne-Pool-Redruth link road, due to open next year, with new workspace and homes at the Heartlands site.

Cornwall Council’s emerging town framework for Camborne, Pool, Illogan and Redruth (CPIR) has identified the Carn Brea Leisure Centre site as suitable for a major retail and leisure development.

Cornwall Council is in discussions with developers to create a masterplan for the site, and then secure planning permission.

Its aim is to sell off land, currently not in use at the sports centre, for commercial development to fund the rebuilding of the leisure centre facilities and re-providing the county’s only county standard athletics track and at a different location.

The Carn Brea Leisure Centre Trust said: “Should the proposals go ahead, the vast 17-acre site, equivalent to the size of 10 football pitches and much of which is currently unused, would be transformed into a retail and leisure park, of a scale that would attract high street names and generate significant employment opportunities and economic value.”

It is thought that if the council’s Cabinet agrees to the proposals and planning permission is granted, work could start within two years.

Track’s future is still not certain

THE future of Carn Brea’s athletics track hinges on a deal to raise enough funds to pay for its relocation as well as rebuilding the leisure centre in Pool.

Campaigners have been fighting to keep the track in the Camborne, Pool, and Redruth area and as decision day looms, Alan Rowling, chairman of Cornwall Athletic Club, argues for why the facilities should remain in the west.

He warns that the council’s deal is crucial if the track is to be safeguarded for talented runners of the future. He said: “If the leisure centre is not refurbished, using part of the proceeds from the sale of adjacent land, it is in danger of closing in the near future as insufficient funds will be available to cover essential maintenance costs. This could also mean the closure of the track within a few years when resurfacing will be required, hence the need to relocate.”

In September the club hosted two meetings with Peter Marsh, interim corporate director environment at Cornwall Council.

The first was with the committee of Cornwall Athletic Club and Carn Brea Leisure Centre Trust. The second was with other users, including Cornwall Athletic Association, Cornwall Schools Athletic Association, Hayle Runners and Carn Runners.

Despite assurances that the track would remain in the Camborne, Pool, Redruth (CPR), added Mr Rowling, he was dismayed when Mr Marsh suggested it be relocated to a more suitable site at Richard Lander School.

He said: “This school is located at Threemilestone, adjacent to Truro College. Relocation to Truro would deprive a significant number of athletic users at Carn Brea of access to their chosen sport, especially those who live further west in the Penzance/St Ives area and the Helston/Mullion area.

“Cornwall Athletic Club, who is the main user of Carn Brea for training and competition, has a membership of around 250 and is one of the largest sports clubs in the county. It has coached some of the top runners in the country including Helen Glover, from Penzance, and Emma Steptoe, from Redruth and currently ranked fourth in the UK ladies long distance runners.”

Following both meetings it was agreed that there would be a more detailed analysis of both the Redruth and Richard Lander sites, said Mr Rowling. A report on the suitability of Camborne has already been completed.

Mr Rowling feared Truro was the preferred option, adding: “The major concern of the Athletic Community west of Truro is that the council’s preferred option would appear to be the Truro site, despite the fact that Cornwall’s only other athletics track is at Par. Both facilities would be even closer together, which raises questions about the future of Par.”

Ambitious development plans to revitalise popular leisure centre

THE chairman of the Carn Brea Leisure Centre Trust, Colin Rowe, reveals his vision for the new sporting facilities, how the trust has overcome major challenges, and that it is now poised to deliver “something special” for the whole community.

He is keen to explain the trust’s plans for the Carn Brea Leisure Centre in Pool, which could be rebuilt using proceeds from the sale of the site should Cornwall Council’s cabinet approve ambitious plans at the end of November.

Mr Rowe said: “Cornwall Council, who own the site and Carn Brea Leisure Centre, an independent charitable trust, has reached an agreement that could see the land surrounding the leisure centre sold to developers, with the leisure centre rebuilt on its existing footprint.

“Developers would then use the surrounding land to create a large scale retail and leisure park that supports and complements the council’s £300m regeneration programme taking place within Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR).

“It is thought the retail project would generate significant employment opportunities and economic value.”

The leisure centre, which first opened its doors to the public in 1974, was closed by Kerrier District Council in 1999 due to running costs and concerns around the condition of the building.

The centre was re-opened in 2000 as Cornwall’s first charitable trust leisure centre following a transfer from Kerrier.

“The centre has since established itself at the heart of the CPR community and as well as becoming an award winning, social enterprise, it currently employs more than 100 members of staff, and benefits from in excess of 500,000 visitors each year, making it one of the most well used leisure centres in the south west.

“The last decade hasn’t been without challenges for the trust, the most significant being maintaining an ageing facility on super tight budgets and with the building about to enter its 40th year of operation the opportunity to rebuild and modernise the centre comes at a critical time for the trust.

“It is no secret that the building is fast approaching the end of its lifespan and this project gives the trust the chance to secure its future and deliver something very special for the community.

“The trust’s plans, put together with support from Plymouth-based leisure specialist architects Burke Rickhards Ltd, see the centre rebuilt on the existing site and the layout of facilities re-modelled to include, a brand new eight-lane swimming pool, expanded gym and fitness studios, a new coffee shop and café, as well as massively improved changing rooms and a strong focus on renewable technologies to minimise the impact on the environment and ensure the centre operates as cost efficiently as possible.

“If the project goes ahead the rebuild will provide the much improved facilities that our loyal users deserve and ensure a sustainable leisure centre remains at the heart of the community for many years to come.”

It is thought that if cabinet agree to the proposals and planning permission is granted, work could start within two years.

The works will be undertaken in a phased approach to enable people to continue to use the facilities and and the trust has confirmed that the centre would remain open while the works take place.

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2 comments

  • josdave  |  October 31 2013, 4:01PM

    Why are councils falling over each other to grant planning permission to supermarkets. We already have too many and do not need any more. As regards the "bribes" for that's what they are once the store is built they will not care about any of that.

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  • 4becks  |  October 31 2013, 12:38PM

    Tesco did this with local council in Bridgwater 10 years ago - demolish the then very good Bridgewater Splash pool with flumes, rapids etc so we can build you a supermarket and affordable housing and we will build a NEW swimming pool. - 9 years later there is still NO swimming pool in Bridgewater!!!

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