New swimming pool among draft strategy for Welwyn Hatfield sports halls and pitches

PUBLISHED: 14:26 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:42 09 January 2020

Gosling Sports Park. Picture: Danny Loo

Gosling Sports Park. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

A new draft strategy was launched for Welwyn Hatfield sports halls and outdoor pitches yesterday – with a new swimming pool among the recommendations.

Playing fields behind Birchwood leisure centre.Playing fields behind Birchwood leisure centre.

The strategy also empowers Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to negotiate significant funding from developers to build new halls when new homes are built in the borough.

And could mean new and enhanced facilities for the borough if the council approves the plans.

It will also enable local clubs and associations to make funding bids from national and regional sports organisations by having robust evidence to make their case.

The borough's existing facilities are summarised in the document, underlining the wide range of provision and high standard of many of the existing facilities.

It also highlights the large amount of publicly owned facilities in Welwyn Hatfield compared to other areas.

The draft strategy main recommendations include:

- Producing a detailed masterplan for Gosling Sports Park, setting out how the site could best meet the needs of residents in the future.

- Exploring a long term ambition to build a new indoor swimming pool space.

People enjoying the Music Festival, Barnyard Junkies (the band) in the background. Birchwood Leisure Centre, Hatfield. Picture: Simon JenkinsPeople enjoying the Music Festival, Barnyard Junkies (the band) in the background. Birchwood Leisure Centre, Hatfield. Picture: Simon Jenkins

- Considering bringing Hatfield Leisure and Swim Centres together in one location.

It is also looking at replacing or refurbishing parts or all of Hatfield Leisure Centre, Birchwood Leisure Centre, Gosling Sports Park and school facilities across the borough.

Gosling Sports Park - which is owned by the council and partly earmarked for housing under its Local Plan - could have many new sports additions including improving the cycle velodrome and replacing athletics facilities if they are lost.

Skiing and the golf driving range at Gosling's are also being considered if these are lost by the Local Plan or any new development.

But the report points out that skiing needs a lot of investment and often do not get regular use.

Snowsport England dismisses these claims saying as Bassingbourn has been lost and if Welwyn Garden City is gone then London skiiers have limited facilities.

Along with these, the council is looking into other projects in the area. These are likely to cost approximately £250,000 or more and will include a number of different stakeholders and funding partners.

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The new swimming pool is recommended to be built for Welwyn Garden City and surrounding villages ageing demographics, who currently do not have access to a pool.

At the moment, Welwyn Garden City lacks a public swimming pool - while Hatfield has access through David Lloyd, Hatfield Swim Centre and Hertfordshire Sports Village.

Along with these, the council is looking into other projects in the area. These are likely to cost approximately £250,000 or more and will include a number of different stakeholders and funding partners.

The new swimming pool is recommended to be built for Welwyn Garden City and surrounding villages ageing demographics, who currently do not have access to a pool.

Currently, Welwyn Garden City lacks a swimming pool that's open to the public - while Hatfield has access through David Lloyd, Hatfield Swim Centre and Hertfordshire Sports Village.

And the report actively calls for more water space, equivalent to 187.50 square metres by 2032 (which would mean four lanes x 25m pool) during the period up to 2032.

Bowls is also cited as a good opportunity and could mean two new rinks might be built by 2032.

There is also potential to help a new athletics track get built at Oaklands College in St Albans, just outside the borough boundary.

The council is required by government to draw up a strategy and has worked with independent specialists to find one that looks at local need over the next 15 years and beyond. It also has the backing of national sports governing bodies and Sport England, having followed their national guidelines and methodology.

Executive member for leisure, culture and communications and Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Terry Mitchinson, said: "We know the borough is already well served in terms of local sports facilities which are the envy of many.

"But we also know some local sites require investment as more people come to live, work and study in the area.

"This strategy helps us to assess what the future needs are, and enables us and our partners - including local clubs and associations - to meet those needs in the years ahead."

Executive member for planning Cllr Stephen Boulton, said: "This strategy is one of a range of documents we need to take account of our growing population and its diverse needs for sport, leisure and recreation.

"This is important as we move towards adopting a new Local Plan as it gives us a robust evidence base when negotiating with developers for new facilities."

The draft plan will be presented to the social overview and scrutiny committee on January 16, with a recommendation that it is referred on to the council's cabinet for formal adoption.

If it is then passed by cabinet and consulted on then it could be formally adopted.

For more information please go to welhat.gov.uk/sports-strategy.


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