Public backing for multi-million pound improvements at Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre

·3-min read
Artist impressions of the proposed plans at Southampton Sports Centre.
Artist impressions of the proposed plans at Southampton Sports Centre.

MULTI-MILLION pound plans to revamp a Southampton sports complex have been backed by city residents.

Over 90 per cent of respondents have said they agree with new plans for Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre.

A total of £16.85 million has been set aside by the council for the work which includes new changing rooms, a gym, cafe and new indoor tennis and netball courts.

It forms a scheme to bring the almost 100 year-old facility up to date.

Residents did however suggest possible changes to the scheme that are now due to be considered as an outline planning application for the scheme is drawn up.

Daily Echo: Indicative images of the plans for Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre
Daily Echo: Indicative images of the plans for Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre

Indicative images of the plans for Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre

Suggestions from the consultation included a new indoor sports hall as well as disabled access for changing rooms.

Others raised concerns about how much the scheme is going to cost, adding that there are already enough tennis facilities across the city.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, civic chiefs are due to consider the results of the 12-week consultation and are then expected to agree a draft masterplan of the improvements.

Speaking to the Echo, council finance boss, Cllr John Hannides said some work could possibly start later this year.

However, the majority of the work is expected to take place in 2023.

Daily Echo: Indicative images of the plans for Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre
Daily Echo: Indicative images of the plans for Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre

Indicative images of the plans for Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre

He added that the sports centre is a “jewel in the crown” for the city and is “extremely exciting for Southampton”.

"We received an overwhelmingly positive response to the recent consultation on our Draft Masterplan of Improvements for Southampton’s Outdoor Sports Centre with over 2,500 people submitting their feedback and 93% of these people agreeing with the proposals.

“This will be the single largest investment in the sports centre since it was first constructed. It is about bringing the sports centre into the 21st century.

“Before any decisions are put together the idea is to see to what extent we can take on board as many suggestions as possible.

"The next steps for these ambitious plans will be approval of the baseline scope of works at Cabinet next Monday before we look to start on site with phase one of the cycling improvements this spring followed by the main programme of works anticipated to commence later in the year.”

The centre that was originally opened in 1938 was used as a temporary military base ahead of D-day invasions.

The work at the site is expected to enhance its offer for both competitive sports and leisure users.

Leader of the Labour opposition, Cllr Satvir Kaur, said that she is “really pleased that Labour’s plan for the redevelopment of the Outdoor Sport Centre is moving forward.

“Improving our city’s leisure offer should be a key priority coming out of the pandemic,” she said.

“We worked hard to ensure local communities, clubs and users, played an active role in developing these plans.

“I think it’s right however to take on board specific suggestions to make it more accessible, especially for disabled users.”

Cllr Hannides added: “Receiving the highest levels of agreement throughout the entire consultation, the plans for a new ‘Hub’ will offer a range of facilities for the community including a new indoor gym, supporting sports that use the Outdoor Sports Centre whilst maximising the use of the open space across the site and promoting year-round use.

"To ensure the indoor gym within the ‘Hub’ is financially accessible, we will work with the operator to encourage an affordable and competitive price.

"The improvements to the Outdoor Sports Centre are also designed to be accessible for people with disabilities, the venue will benefit from improved disabled parking with the new ‘Hub’ providing disabled access to the multi-sport indoor sports hall, changing rooms and a lift."

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