What do you think of detailed plans for Houghton Regis' new £25m community and leisure centre?

Consultation is now open, with engagement event and webinars to take place this month

By Steve Sims
Friday, 21st January 2022, 10:33 am

Residents urged to have their say on detailed plans for a £25million community and leisure centre in Houghton Regis

The plans for a £25million community and leisure centre in Houghton Regis, funded with £20million of government funding plus major Central Bedfordshire Council investment, have been unveiled. But to ensure it meets the needs of current and future residents, Central Beds Council wants to know what people think of the proposals.

The consultation is now open, and residents can give their feedback until Wednesday, February 16.

Artist impressions of the proposed community and leisure centre in Houghton Regis have been released to kick-start a consultation and engagement exercise

The council asks residents to look through detailed information on the new facility at: www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/kingsland and provide their opinions by answering questions and leaving comments on the online feedback form. Residents can also make suggestions for a name for the new facility.

A consultation and engagement event will take place on: Saturday, January 29 between 11am and 4pm in Bedford Square close to the community library.

The event will allow residents to meet members of the project team, look at the plans, ask questions and provide feedback.

Given the ongoing pandemic, the event will be in the concourse to enable better ventilation and will observe the latest COVID-19 guidance. People planning to visit are kindly asked to take a lateral flow test beforehand and not to attend if they have any symptoms. Face masks should be worn and social distancing arrangements will be observed where possible.

Artist impressions of the proposed community and leisure centre in Houghton Regis have been released to kick-start a consultation and engagement exercise

Further ongoing community engagement will follow to keep residents informed about the plans and progress. Two live online webinars are also planned where people can hear from the project team and ask questions from the comfort of their homes. These will take place on Thursday, January 27 (6pm to 7pm) and Monday, January 31 (12.30pm to 2pm). Further information on how to attend these webinars is available at: www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/kingslandCBC says the two-storey community and leisure hub will offer a fabulous swimming experience. A 25 metre eight-lane main pool is more than double the size of the existing Houghton Regis Leisure Centre pool. A learner pool will have a movable floor to raise or lower the depth for swimming lessons, there is a separate shallow pool, known as confidence water, and a changing village.

A substantial fitness suite, a spinning bikes studio and multi-use exercise studios will provide dedicated spaces for workouts and classes. Two squash courts add to the modern sports provision.

Arrangements with the new Houstone School will see its sports facilities also available for residents to use. This includes a new sports hall for indoor sports.

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Artist impressions of the proposed community and leisure centre in Houghton Regis have been released to kick-start a consultation and engagement exercise

Proposals include a spacious foyer and reception area, a cafe, community space, a creche and Changing Places facilities for severely disabled visitors.

The outdoor plans contain a children’s play area and a fitness and running trail. Quality landscaping and considerable planting will create lovely public spaces and enhance biodiversity.

A large 238 space car park will include electric vehicle charging points, motorcycle parking, accessible parking bays and cycle parking. Improved walking and cycling routes will connect the development to other parts of the Kingsland Campus and the local community.

Cllr Tracey Stock, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing and Communities, said: “One of our key priorities is providing communities with modern, top specification leisure and community facilities as we know how important they are to our health and wellbeing. This planned centre at Kingsland in Houghton Regis will offer significantly upgraded facilities for residents and complement the wider plans helping to transform the area.

Artist impressions of the proposed community and leisure centre in Houghton Regis have been released to kick-start a consultation and engagement exercise

“Together with the major extension to the Jenkins Pavilion in Sandy and a new leisure centre planned for Leighton Linslade, it shows how we are delivering on the recommendations set out in our ambitious Leisure Facilities Strategy.

“I encourage people to either attend the consultation and community engagement event, register for one of the live webinars or go to our council website to find out more. We want to know what residents think of the exciting plans which will encourage more people to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.”

Cllr Kevin Collins, Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration, said: “This proposed high-quality new centre will offer residents an exceptional swimming experience, superior fitness and sporting activities and a wonderful place to socialise. We are investing in the future of Houghton Regis by creating important assets that benefit the whole community.”

Close to £20 million of Levelling Up funding from the government is supporting the proposed £25 million community and leisure centre. Subject to planning approval, the construction of the new community and leisure centre will start later in 2022 once Houghton Regis Academy, the proposed site, is closed at the end of the summer school term. The new Houstone school is due to open in autumn 2022.

The leisure and community building will open in 2024 to meet the timeframes and funding criteria set by the government. The new facility will replace the old Houghton Regis Leisure Centre. However, to ensure continuous leisure provision is available for residents, the existing centre will stay open until the new centre is complete. At this point, residents will benefit from the modern sports and community facilities at the new centre and also at Houstone School.

People can request hard copies of the consultation information, the questionnaire and a Freepost envelope to reply by emailing: [email protected]