Major upgrade approved to George Campbell Leisure Centre in March to bring it up to standard of Fenland’s other gyms

16:41 14 August 2014

George Campbell Leisure Centre. March. Picture: Steve Williams.

George Campbell Leisure Centre. March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

A £549,000 upgrade to March’s George Campbell Leisure Centre, which will see the gym extended, a studio for fitness classes built and new changing rooms, has been unanimously approved by Fenland District Council’s cabinet.

George Campbell Leisure Centre. March. Picture: Steve Williams.George Campbell Leisure Centre. March. Picture: Steve Williams.

And, to minimise future disruption, an extra £88,000 will be spent on replacing the pool roof and pool lining at the same time.

Work could begin as soon as next month and be completed by March 2015.

The number of gym stations will be increased from 33 to 50 by building an extension at the front of the gym area with a higher roof and large glass panels.

The purpose built studio will have more natural light, space and a high ceiling. The front of the building will get a makeover.

The project would have cost £765,691 but the council has secured a £216,690 grant from Sport England.

The changing rooms, which were described as “poor”, will be replaced by a new village style changing facility where families will be able to change together.

Cabinet also considered a £1.2million option which would have seen the swimming pool closed and a new leisure centre, similar to the one opened in Chatteris, built.

But this proposal was swiftly dismissed, with several councillors saying March going without a swimming pool would not be acceptable.

Addressing Cabinet, Councillor Michelle Tanfield, portfolio holder for leisure and children and young people, said: “The George Campbell centre has been neglected and is unappealing to customers, with the changing rooms in a poor state of repair.

“The people of March and the surrounding area deserve a leisure centre which is as good as the ones in the rest of Fenland.

“March must have an upgraded leisure centre. This will encourage people to join and keep them coming back.”

Councillor Will Sutton said: “I took my granddaughter to the George Campbell a few weeks ago and had a conversation with another user who said they were happy with the facilities but not the changing rooms.

“When I told her about these plans she was over the moon.”

Councillor Fred Yeulett said he would like to see a soft-play area introduced at some point but fully supported the plans, while Council Leader John Clark asked that the general public be kept informed of every stage of building works.

Councillor Mike Cornwell, who proposed incorporating the pool roof and lining work into the upgrade to reduce disruption, said he was “very keen” to see something done in March and that the George Campbell centre had suffered from a “lack of investment”.

The upgrade will generate an additional £91,000 in income a year and it is hoped the redevelopment will reduce the energy bill by thousands of pounds a year.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Tanfield said: “A lot of hard work has gone in behind the scenes and I’m pleased that everyone responded so well. It is so important that the centre gets upgraded. I’m really excited about the whole thing.”

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