Great Yarmouth councillors to consider public feedback on concept designs for new Water and Leisure Complex
PLANS for a new destination water and leisure complex for Great Yarmouth seafront are progressing as borough councillors are set to meet next week to consider the public engagement feedback on the exciting concept designs.
Under plans by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the famous Golden Mile is set for a once-in-a-generation investment in the new anchor attraction, which will benefit the seafront and whole borough, year-round, for up to 40 years, acting as a catalyst for further investment and an important hub supporting community health and well-being.
Significant project development work already undertaken identifies that a new and improved centre on the site of the existing Marina Centre is better value for money than refurbishing the existing, or re-building in a different location, and also reduces impact on the seafront during works.
During two weeks of public engagement in March, the public were invited to view exhibition boards on display in both the Marina Centre and Gorleston Library, to meet the design team at one of three drop-in sessions, and to share their views. People could also feed back online.
A total of 294 completed responses were received, of which 73 per cent were from Marina Centre users. Public feedback has since been evaluated and is helping to shape the look and feel of a final design for the new facility.
On Thursday, May 16, full council will consider the feedback and the council's responses, which are available in full at www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/golden-mile The current phase of project development work will be completed later this summer, when full council will consider next steps, including the release of the required funding.
Key public feedback and responses:
- Overall, respondents welcome this major investment in the borough, with the architectural designs and visual appearance being well received.
- Several elements already incorporated into the design are very important to most respondents, including design sustainability, parking and outdoor frontage areas, internal community space, café views to the beach, the multi-use sports hall, the fitness studio, wet play structures and children's play within the leisure water.
- The designs have been reviewed to incorporate four outward facing public toilets on the new complex, following concerns about the unavoidable loss of the existing toilet block immediately to the north of the centre.
- To allay concerns expressed about affordability for local residents, the council is working with its leisure provider to ensure the fees for the new centre will be affordable to all.
- Ensuring the complex is fully accessible for disabled people is a key consideration for both the public and the council. Already, the design proposals include a Changing Places toilet facility, with specific work ongoing to ensure the main pool access is fully accessible to all.
Cllr Graham Plant, the council leader, and Cllr Trevor Wainwright, the Labour group leader, said: "The level of responses and turn-out at the drop-in sessions was really positive. The public engagement and vital feedback has shaped the project and supported important ongoing conversations with specific users. We would like to thank everyone who participated.
"It's clear there's genuine public excitement about this new anchor attraction and people recognise the benefits of this once-in-a-generation investment in the seafront and whole borough.
"The officers have done a fantastic job, presenting the concept designs clearly, listening attentively and responding to people's feedback and questions, including in the design itself. The council is finalising the design of this state-of-the-art destination facility, which will be subject to consultation as part of the planning application process.
"It's important to recognise that doing nothing would result in a large empty building in a prime site on the seafront, as the Marina Centre is an ageing inefficient building, nearing the end of its life. The council is committed to minimising the unavoidable yet temporary disruption for users, and is working closely with its leisure provider and equalities advisor, various clubs and user groups to try to identify alternative provision during the closure."
Subject to planning approval and the full council decision later this summer, the Marina Centre is currently scheduled to close in autumn 2019, with on-site work starting before Christmas. All being well, the new water & leisure complex will be open for summer 2021. The level of investment is £20m to 26m.