Bedford ‘Leisure Village’ part of council’s vision for Borough

Bedford International Athletic Stadium. Image: Bedford International Athletic Stadium/Facebook
Bedford International Athletic Stadium. Image: Bedford International Athletic Stadium/Facebook

A “high-profile and unique” leisure village is part of the borough council’s vision for Bedford, a meeting heard.

The council’s Leisure Vision and Strategy was announced at last night’s Executive Meeting (November 22).

But before moving onto the council’s “overarching vision” for leisure facilities, the portfolio holder for leisure and culture, cllr Sarah Gallagher (Conservative, Shortstown) said Bedford’s leisure facilities had deteriorated over the last 10 years “as everybody knows”.

“Most of the buildings are now at or beyond the end of their useful working economic life,” she said.

“Significant investment is required to ensure that the facilities meet the minimum health and safety standards.”

Cllr Gallagher said the council’s leisure strategy scoping document sets out the administration’s vision, strategic priorities, and key outcomes over the “next few years”.

“This will start the process of a wider engagement with key partners, clubs and stakeholders across the borough along with key national governing bodies determining an effective long-term plan for developing, transforming, and enhancing the council’s leisure and physical activity services In the borough,” she added

The Executive heard that this includes a new “high-profile and unique” leisure village, incorporating the provision of a new purpose-built facility to bring a range of facilities and community activities to the borough.

It also includes the “essential” refurbishment of existing leisure assets (including the replacement of the running track at the Bedford International Athletic Stadium), and a “commitment to pursue sources of external funding” to support the project and overall investment.

“The council will pursue external financial support as it is envisaged that the leisure investment will attract external funding,” councillor Gallagher said.

“Central Beds Council have, by way of example, recently secured £20 million levelling up fund from the government for a new leisure centre at Houghton Regis.

“And there is real confidence that third-party funding will be available to contribute to the leisure village project.

“This represents a key commitment of the new administration and reflects the drive to provide a high standard of leisure that the community deserves,” she said.

Bedford mayor, Tom Wootton (Conservative) said: “We’re actually going to do something absolutely fantastic for Bedford residents, it is a real step forward.”

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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