By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A new £9.2m health hub will be built on a Warsop park after being unanimously approved by councillors at the second time of asking.
Mansfield District Council’s planning committee backed the plans on Monday night (March 13) – exactly a month after the same committee deferred the scheme.
Councillors had previously postponed their decision so a site visit could be held over concerns about access and parking.
However, the March 2 site visit addressed these concerns and allowed members of the committee to back the plans.
It means the major new leisure hub – which will include a 15m x 8m swimming pool – will be created on Carr Lane Park, off Carr Lane.
It’s part of the authority’s Towns Fund investment, with £3m of the £12.3m pot to be invested into the new health hub.
A further £1.8m will be provided through Sport England, with the remainder to be made up through reserves and borrowing by the council.
Alongside the swimming pool, the hub will feature an outdoor multi-use games area (MUGA), a fitness suite, a multi-purpose hall, a splash play area, changing facilities and community rooms.
Classes such as pilates and yoga may also be held at the site alongside swimming sessions for schools.
Speaking during the planning committee meeting on Monday, Maureen Briggs, a resident in the parish, spoke about the benefits of the scheme.
She said: “We have a problem with anti-social behaviour and this development, a community project, has the potential to curb some of that.
“There is no doubt facilities such as this are needed for all age groups.”
However, she raised concerns about outdoor MUGA being ‘out-of-use’ during winter months if adequate lighting is not provided.
An architectural spokesperson for the applicant – which is Mansfield District Council – confirmed no lights will be installed when the hub is built.
But they said the MUGA will be ‘future-proofed’ and infrastructure will be in place to allow large outdoor lighting to be installed at a later date.
The spokesperson added: “The proposals deliver the identified community facilities needed [for Warsop].
“The scheme has been designed to provide accessible facilities [and] to help all members of the community to get active. The design is community-focused.”
All 10 councillors voted in favour of the Labour-run authority’s plans.
However, some opposition councillors still raised concerns and said the scheme “could have been more ambitious”.
Councillor Rob Elliman (Con), who represents the Oakham ward, said: “In terms of Warsop needing a health hub, I don’t think anyone disputes that.
“At the end of the day, I will support this in terms of [planning] but my personal opinion is the pool should have been bigger and we should have been more ambitious.
“It’s a bit of a shame and a wasted opportunity in terms of what could have been done with this project.”
But Cllr Ann Norman (Lab), who represents Park Hall, said: “This is a very good thing and – as for the size of the pool – we wouldn’t have got the money for a bigger one.
“Sport England made it quite clear that – in the present situation – we can only have small pools.
“We’re all disappointed by that but I think the building is going to be really lovely. The site visit was helpful.”
Andy Abrahams (Lab), Mansfield’s mayor, will take a delegated decision on Tuesday (March 14) to appoint an operator for the hub.
Serco Leisure, which runs the Water Meadows, Oak Tree and Rebecca Adlington centres, will take control of the site when it opens in October 2024.
The council expects construction to begin this summer.
The authority has previously said the hub is “not a replacement” for the Meden Sports Centre, which it closed in 2018 over maintenance costs and the building’s condition.