Plans for £25m state of the art new leisure centre in Houghton Regis move a step closer

Central Bedfordshire Council’s plan to build a new £25million community and leisure centre in Houghton Regis is taking its next step.

By Lynn Hughes
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 3:47 pm
An artist's impression of the new centre

Feedback from the recent consultation has helped refine the planning application which will now be submitted, providing another opportunity for people to comment on detailed plans.

The consultation showed strong public support for the leisure and community centre and the improved facilities that will be provided.

These include an eight-lane 25 metre community swimming pool, more than double the size of the pool at the existing Houghton Regis Leisure Centre. There will be a dedicated learner pool with a movable floor to raise or lower the depth for swimming lessons and other activities and a separate splash pool.

A large fitness suite and flexible exercise studios will provide dedicated spaces for a range of different classes and community activities. Two squash courts will also feature.

Plans include a cafe, community space, a creche, Changing Place provision to support people with disabilities, a children’s outdoor play area, and an outdoor fitness trail.

Enhanced landscaping and planting will surround the centre, with improved walking and cycling routes across the Kingsland Campus linking to the new Houstone School and its provision of indoor and outdoor sports facilities, and the wider community.

Car parking, cycle parking and bus drop-off areas are all included designed to support the needs of a growing Houghton Regis community.

There was some feedback in the consultation about the plans around sports hall provision. Having considered this feedback the council believes providing another new sports hall as part of the leisure centre so close to the neighbouring school sports hall would mean an over provision of such facilities resulting in both halls being underused.

A formal agreement with Houstone School will mean the local community can tap into the sports facilities being built there.

The Council has been considering alternative provision for the small number of existing sports hall users that would be affected and is confident that it can find alternative provision to meet their requirements either inside the new leisure centre, at the new Houstone school or at the nearby Dunstable Centre. Badminton groups in the area had slammed the plans saying they had nowhere to play in the new centre.

Cllr Tracey Stock, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing and Communities, said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to build a fantastic new leisure and community facility for Houghton Regis. The much bigger, new centre will transform the leisure provision by offering superior facilities for residents.

“When you combine the new leisure centre with what is available at the school, it offers a comprehensive package of the very latest sports and leisure facilities.”

The plan will now be subject to a planning consultation and will be considered by the Development Management Committee in July this year.

Subject to planning approval, construction is expected to start in winter 2022 and be complete in summer 2024. The existing Houghton Regis Leisure Centre would remain open throughout the works.