Leisure quality benefits justify floorspace cut

The redevelopment of a leisure centre in an Essex town has been approved after an inspector gave weight to the resultant improvement in leisure provision and the scheme's contribution to housing supply.

The existing building was a former cinema accommodating a snooker hall on the ground floor and a bowling alley on the first floor. The appeal proposal included a replacement leisure facility of 720 square metres, significantly less than the existing floorspace of 2,200 square metres, along with 38 apartments.

The inspector accepted that the building needed refurbishment to meet current standards, such as providing access for disabled people. The council acknowledged that rent payments were insufficient to fund the required investment and that the building could fall vacant in the absence of a viable redevelopment scheme.

The higher quality of leisure facilities offered in the appeal scheme made it more likely to remain viable in future, the inspector reasoned.

Inspector: Laura Graham; Hearing.

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