A new report by Dorset Council officers outlines plans for Redlands Community Sports Hub in Weymouth and puts the long-term future of the indoor facilities in the hands of user groups and the local community.
The report – to be reviewed by the Place and Resources Overview Committee next week before it goes to Cabinet for approval – also sets out exciting plans for the outdoor facilities at the site and how the finances around the proposals will work.
Following Weymouth College’s decision to hand back the lease, Dorset Council members and officers listened closely to the concerns of the community at Redlands and worked with the college and Active Dorset to produce a plan that would improve the outdoor facilities and give current users an opportunity to keep the indoor facilities open.
The proposals are subject to the successful application of several external grants.
- A brand-new community café, encouraging visitors to be more active in the outside environment
- Building a new 3G synthetic turf pitch to meet demand
- Refurbishing the existing 3G pitch
- Creating a new hard-surface loop for walking, jogging, and cycling
- Developing a “trim trail” and informal play spaces
- Soft landscaping and planting.
The indoor facilities would be managed differently. Active Dorset would introduce a “trusted key holder” system where groups and clubs take responsibility for the facilities during their usage time, setting up and taking down their own equipment, and securing the building when last to leave.
All bookings and enquiries will be taken online, removing the need for on-site customer services. Bookings will generate a code which will enable users to access the building through a coded entry point.
The proposed plans would also see the conversion of the under-utilised squash courts into a modern multi-purpose studio and the creation of a new community café and children’s soft play area.
Dorset Council would be responsible for insuring and maintaining the buildings, boundary fencing, car parks, access roads and any other built infrastructure. Weymouth Town Council has also committed to providing £35k annually for the next two years in support of keeping the indoor facilities open.
While the new lease with Active Dorset is proposed to last for 30 years, there is a break clause at 5 years that can be enacted if it is found that the new arrangements are not working.
Cllr Laura Beddow, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Communities and Customer Services, said:
“As the local authority, it is our job to balance the needs of our residents with responsible spending of public money.
We heard the public outcry when the indoor facilities at Redlands were under threat of closure, so Dorset Council worked closely with all involved to come up with a plan that places these facilities firmly in the hands of the people who use and love Redlands.
These proposals, if agreed by Cabinet, represent a fantastic opportunity for the Redlands site under the management of Active Dorset. Users can band together and encourage others to make the most of the indoor facilities to secure their long-term future.
We will be reviewing all our leisure services across Dorset soon, and I hope Redlands is seen as an exemplar of what can be achieved when local authorities and organisations work in partnership with the community to achieve a common goal.”
The report can be found at Redlands Community Sports Hub – Lease and Management Arrangements.pdf (dorsetcouncil.gov.uk)