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Pool plans for Stone leisure centre revamp

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: November 01, 2012

Comments (11)

STONE’S Westbridge Park leisure centre could be rebuilt to include a swimming pool — but a campaigning councillor fighting to ‘keep Westbridge green’ has said the park is no place for such a large building.

Stafford Borough Council’s latest plans for leisure facilities in Westbridge Park will be presented to the cabinet on Tuesday.

They include an ambitious recommendation to replace the ‘obsolete’ sports hall building at Westbridge Park with a new centre, which would include a six-lane, 25 metre swimming pool replacing the existing facilities at Alleyne’s Sports Centre.

But town councillor Rob Kenney told the Newsletter that Stone Business Park would be a more appropriate place to site a new leisure building.

Proposals to build on the park have sparked fierce objections from residents.

The Keep Westbridge Green petition, started by Councillor Kenney, has gathered more than 3,000 signatures, including more than 800 in one day last week.

Councillor Mike Williamson came under fire this week after branding the petition a ‘waste of time’ in the wake of the latest proposals.

Town councilor Mark Green has submitted a complaint to Stone town and Stafford borough councils after Councillor Williamson visited two town shops which have copies of the petition.

It was claimed that he had asked for the petitions to be removed, but speaking to the Newsletter yesterday Councillor Williamson said this was not the case — he had merely said the petitions were unnecessary.

“All I am saying is the petition is a waste of time as I have seen the proposals that are coming out in the meeting next week.

"The speculation about what is going on at Westbridge Park is ridiculous.”

The cabinet is due to approve the appointment of consultation experts, with up to £20,000 set aside for a public consultation on the proposals.

The results will be fed into the borough-wide local development plan.

Improvements to the town’s football pitch provision have also been recommended, with options including ‘centralising’ the pitches at Walton Common to replace existing ones at Westbridge Park.

Play areas for children would get a revamp, including the replacement of equipment for younger children and a place for teenagers.

In 2009 the younger children’s play equipment was removed from the park for health and safety reasons and has not been replaced.

But Councillor Kenney said: “The required size of leisure centre that is indicated in the report is the size of a football pitch and that is only the leisure centre building itself.

"It does not include a car park or any high-quality play facilities for all ages.

"Add the sizes of the new building, car park and play facilities together and it’s clear to anyone that such a development would not fit on the existing leisure centre site or indeed in the area on the left-hand side of Westbridge Park.

“To build such a development would mean having to encroach onto where the existing football pitches are, the area that is used by the Stone Festival and thr food and drink festival.

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  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 21 2012, 9:55PM

    Regarding comment from Ben 6/11/20 Sounds like the NIMBY Councillors had it right and Stafford Borough Councils statement that retail development is not planned for the space were lies. There lies the danger in leaving these things to the "professionals". Well done all who highlighted the danger and let us now all get behind the campaign to save our park ! Save our town !

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 11 2012, 12:04PM

    I do not think the objections I have heard have been a case of NIMBY its been concerns that the open space which forms part of the character of Stone and is central to many of the events held in the town. The six lane pool will not solve the lack of public provision it will simply replace existing provison at Alleynes High School and the chance for casual swimming sessions will be as rare as they are in Stafford.

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 11 2012, 11:57AM

    I can understand the views of people with young children hoping for improved provision but this is the carrot to sway the augument to introduce mixed delevlopment of the site. There is a swimming facility at Alleynes High School, The sports centre on the park and a play area. All of these facilities have been allowed to deteriate to a point they may no longer be fit for purpose. All over the country Council's are closing facilities as they do not have or do not choose to use the funding they have to maintain them. The way forward is community run facilities funded and run by the commuinity but I can not see this happening in Stone. Green Space provides the lungs and wildlife corridors within the urban landscape. Loose this open space to mixed development and it is gone for ever.

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 09 2012, 1:58PM

    I fully endorse the comments made by the latest Stone resident. However, i'm afraid nimbyism usually gets in the way of common sense!

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 08 2012, 3:36PM

    As someone who moved to Stone 10 years ago with children ranging from 14 to 6, please give the new leisure centre the go ahead. We currently have to travel into Stafford three times per week to use the pool and gym for my sons and daughter. The Stafford Pool is often overcrowded (with wristband system limiting the number of entrants to the toddler pool. Stone is crying out for something to liven this area up. It is hardly a beautiful green space. What it has is an appalling play area, a waterlogged dog-fouled field and a haven for joy riders. A new facility would compliment the great facility for Stone canoe club and make this area a hub for all ages. Stone needs to be vibrant and can't continue to just build homes without facilities for its residents. Its a great place to live and this would only enhance the town. Please do not listen to the NIMBY brigade!!

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 06 2012, 9:24PM

    Where are people getting this information that part of Westbridge Park will be sold to Tesco. Stafford Borough Coucil has already stated that the land will not go to a retail development. This is more scare mongering from Nimby Counsellors and shows why there is an urgent need to remove Counsellors from the planning process and leave it to the Professionals.

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 04 2012, 8:47PM

    I am a Stone resident and I am shocked by the comments of Cllr Kenney. I can not understand why anyone would not want a new Leisure facility at Westbridge Park. The current facility is ugly and is in desperate need of replacement. We are constantly reminded that Stone is lacking when compared to Stafford, yet we dismiss this great opportunity to improve the town and improve the leisure provision for all the residents of Stone. The fact that Cllr Kenney states that football pitches will be lost maybe true, but i would urge him to read the Survey completed in 2002 by the Borough council which graded all leisure facilities and pitches for all sports in the borough. Westbridge pitches were heavily criticised due to the fact that they are often water logged in winter and can not be used by teams whos players are over 15 due to the fact that there is no access to changing facilities. Therefore the only league users of these pitches are the junior clubs who too can not use them due to them being the wrong size and not being in accordance with the new FA rules. As part of this development it would facilitate the expansion of the hockey club and rugby club facility to the South of the town. This facilty will provide much needed all weather pitches to a variety of sports including football. The need for a facility like this was also reccomended in the report conducted by the Borough council in 2002. This is now unlikely to happen. As the other Stone resident no improvement to the leisure provision will take place unless a developer pays for it and they are not going to do this for nothing. In this instance a house builder was prepared to do this but is now unlikely to due to the short sighted nature of some of the Stone residents. Stone needs to realise that the UK is suffering from a massive housing shortage and therefore houses need to be built somewhere. Therefore rather than adopting this nimby approach I would suggest that Cllrs work with developers and use them as ways to improve the town. The fact is the proposal on offer would still allow the beer festival to take place as well as creating an excellent leisure hub at Westbridge and the much needed improvements to the hockey and rugby club provision. If the Cllr is that worried about the size of the leisure center surely he could of worked with the developer to find a compromise instead of ensuring that the scheme is withdrawn. This could of easily been achieved by removing the swimming pool from the scheme, which would of obviously reduced the costs of the scheme and kept the Cllr happy.

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 02 2012, 11:17AM

    Another cynical attempt by our elected representatives to trouser kickbacks from selling off Westbridge Park to Tesco. This comes up every couple of years or so in the hope that it can be introduced under the radar of Stone residents. Thankfully Cllr Williamson has revealed his true colours and this will be remembered at the next election

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 01 2012, 7:00PM

    It is a nice suggestion that at the heart of this is the provision of a new 6 lane swimming pool (Replacement for the Alleyne’s Sports Centre which has been allowed to fall into a poor state of repair) and of course up grades to the children’s play area ( which has been allowed to fall into disrepair) but and this the crux, it will all have to be paid for and we know that the Council does not have the money so will need this to come from a private investor such as a supermarket chain maybe ? Which will destroy the open space and increase traffic on an already congested road? If a new pool was being installed by one of the health clubs then I believe that the Stone Business is just the sort of location they would be looking at. Protecting employment land? I do believe that augment was over turned by the Council when they granted permission for the Aldi Store. Of course the site would not have the potential to sell off public land to a supermarket such as Tesco’s for example. On a positive note it is good to at last have this in the open and to see who is supporting the despoiling of our open space and who is listening to the views of the people of Stone. For years there have been denials that anything was being planned but this proves there was no smoke without fire. Also why the cabinet is is due to approve the appointment of consultation experts, with up to £20,000 set aside for a public consultation on the proposals? To listen to what the people of Stone have to say ? No we have already heard what some Councilor’s think about that its to spin and pressure and treat and promise. Save your money we love our open space and want NO development!

  • Staf Newsletter  |  November 01 2012, 12:53PM

    There needs to be realisation and common sense applied by Stone residents about Westbridge Park. Yes, Westbridge Park does provide an area of public open space but is it well utilised apart from a couple of times a year. Is it an attractive piece of land than enhances Stone. I would suggest not, its also harmed by the unattractive and vacant leisure centre. There is an opportunity to do something worthwhile with Westbridge Park, which retains it as an area of public open space and leisure facility but provides so much more. However, i'm afraid Stone residents this is going to involve allowing some development, like the swimming pool because this will fund the improvements. Westbridge Park should be an attractive leisure hub and park not an under used area of green space with a blue elephant in the corner!