LCC hopes to start work in summer 2024. Credit: Leeds City Council

Leeds goes its own way with Gipton leisure

Twice turned down for Levelling Up support, the city council wants to replace the aged Fearnville Leisure Centre with a wide-ranging facility based at the King George V playing fields site.

The local authority said that good progress is being made towards identifying funding for a project based around bringing quality leisure provision to east Leeds, a project twice turned down for central government support through the Levelling Up Fund.

Leeds had sought £20m of support for a project estimated at around £28m in total.

LCC’s plans would see a new wellbeing centre being built on part of the King George V Playing Fields, a 28-acre green space that is home to the current Fearnville facility.

The professional team on the project includes NPS Group, Norse Consulting, WSP and Quants Environmental.

Indoor amenities would include a large main swimming pool, learner pool, sports hall, fitness studios, spin room and a 120-station gym as well as a community café and adventure play area.

Major improvements would also be made to Fearnville’s outdoor offer, with an all-weather pitch, tennis courts, pump track, skatepark and play zone among the proposed features. Tree-planting and soft landscaping would increase the site’s biodiversity.

According to the council, the new-look centre would encourage take-up of physical activity among residents in Gipton & Harehills and Killingbeck & Seacroft, densely populated wards suffering from low life expectancy and high obesity rates – as well as benefiting the wider area in part of the city that is seeing swathes of new housing brought forward in the East Leeds Extension.

A planning application has been submitted by the council, which hopes to begin work in the middle of 2024.

The existing centre would remain open while the new facility takes shape on a part of the site that at present is occupied by a disused artificial football pitch. Then, once construction is complete, the current 1980s centre would be demolished.

The bulk of the funding for the scheme is proposed to be sourced from a mix of external grant support, the council’s capital programme and developer contributions.

The new centre, as with the old, would be a key learning to swim provider. Credit: LCC

Cllr Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, public health and active lifestyles, said:

“Improving the health and wellbeing of all our residents is one of the foundations of the council’s Best City Ambition – our vision for a Leeds that is compassionate and caring with a strong economy.

“To help us achieve this goal, we need to give people access to high-quality sports, fitness and leisure facilities of the type planned for Fearnville.

“The new centre will be a significant asset for Gipton & Harehills, Killingbeck & Seacroft and the wider east Leeds area, offering increased opportunities for physical activities while also fostering a greater sense of community inclusion and engagement among those who use it.

“We want to create something that is a real source of pride for people across east Leeds and has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing for many, many years to come.

“The council has made two unsuccessful bids to win support for a previous version of the Fearnville scheme from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, so I am pleased that we have been able to step in and move forward with the plans.”

The proposals can be viewed in full on Leeds City Council’s planning portal with the reference 2204460/FU.

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