Could £12m go towards a new leisure centre in Houghton Regis?
A meeting of Central Beds Council’s Executive heard that the draft capital spending programme for 2020/21 to 2023/2 has allocated around £12m detailed for work in Houghton Regis – although it remains to be decided how that money will be spent.
The money may be used towards a new leisure centre in Houghton Regis, Central Bedfordshire Council has commissioned a feasibility study for the Kingsland site, to explore options for how the site can accommodate a leisure centre.
A spokesperson for Central Bedfordshire Council said: "The council has commissioned a feasibility study to explore options for how the Kingsland site can accommodate a secondary school, primary school and leisure centre on the part of the site not currently built on.
"We’re accelerating the building of a new school on the site if the proposed closure of the Houghton Regis Academy goes ahead.
"The budget proposals, if agreed, effectively set some money into the budget to help deliver community assets on the site but the details are not agreed as the feasibility study will inform the approach."
The Central Bedfordshire Councillors who represent the wards in Houghton Regis were pleased with the news that the money will be used for leisure facilities in the town.
Cllr Antonia Ryan, for Parkside ward, said: "It is my understanding that the money will be used for a new leisure centre.
"A few years ago Central Bedfordshire tried to shut the Leisure Centre [in Parkside Drive] but due to a public backlash it thankfully remained open.
"Houghton Regis is desperately in need for extra funding and we have seen two multi million pound regeneration bids fail.
"It is fantastic to see the Council has recognised the importance of good facilities and community and are investing.
"I’m looking forward to working with officers and the the community to help shape what facilities we need."
Cllr Susan Goodchild, for Houghton Hall ward, added: "Within the draft budget proposals £12,075m has been included over the period 2020/21 - 2023/24.
"The Council has commissioned a feasibility study for the Kingsland Site, the final details of which have not been made available.
"It is difficult for me to say at this stage whether the £12,075m will solely be used for leisure facilities.
"The draft budget proposals will be discussed at the Council's Corporate Resources O&SC at it's meeting on Thursday and members will have the opportunity to ask questions on the draft budget."
Cllr Pat Hamill, for Tithe Farm ward, has welcomed the funding for a new leisure centre, but wants to see more done to improve the infrastructure in the town.
He said: "I think the money is for the new leisure centre that will be coming with the new school and we are all looking forward to it.
"There will be plenty of improvements going on in the town, but I am opposed to the continuous building on green belt land.
"It has caused a lot of problems, in particular infrastructure problems.
"Those need to be improved before more work is done."