Plans to replace the Swanage Town and Herston Football Club sports hall are now progressing, after a temporary solution to repair the building was ruled out.
The sports hall, which had been in a poor state of repair for a while, had to be closed in spring 2021, when it was deemed not safe to use. Water was pooling on the floor during wet weather and the walls and roof were deteriorating.
There’s been a long term plan to redevelop the site at Days Park for more than seven years, and a public exhibition was held in October 2019 showing what a new community sports and leisure centre would look like.
The public consultation and exhibition in October 2019
Progress stalled during the pandemic
However progress stalled during the pandemic when communication with fundraising organisations became difficult. Now with the closure of the sports hall, there’s been a renewed effort to get the redevelopment back on track.
A working party made up of representatives from Swanage Town Council, Swanage Town and Herston FC and Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust have been meeting and say they are jointly committed to providing Swanage with a new sport and leisure centre.
“Temporary loss of the sports hall is very unfortunate“
The team did look at what it would take to repair the sports hall as a short term solution but decided that the cost estimated at more than £100,000 would be better spent pursuing the long term plan.
In a statement the working party said:
“Following a meeting of the football club and Swanage Town Council it was decided that the cost of repairing the hall was much too high to be economically viable to carry out.
“It could only be a short-term fix when the main drive was to get the new sports and leisure centre developed, as soon as possible.
“The working party recognises that the temporary loss of the sports hall is very unfortunate for the clubs previously using it, including table tennis, badminton, short tennis etc but it is too risky to continue without major work.
“The plans to replace it will produce a much better facility, built to current standards, managed professionally, and designed to last for many years to come.
“The working party has undertaken to provide regular updates on this exciting community development so that local people can be kept informed of progress throughout. There will be further opportunities for public input, through consultation, in the lead up to the planning application.
“Because of the high level of funding needed to carry out the project it could take up to five years to reach completion. Ideally, it will be sooner than this with the support of both the local community and major grant funders.”
Architect impressions of what the new sport and leisure centre could look like
Gym, a sports hall and a fitness suite
The proposed new facility will include a gym, a sports hall and a fitness suite. In addition to these sports facilities there will be provision for local families including a multi-level soft play area and a large community café with a separate bar facility.
The sports hall will be able to be converted into a large performance hall, to concert hall standards, for music and drama events.
To encourage new business creation and employment opportunities in Swanage, an enterprise hub and meeting rooms will also be included.
Phase one of the development will be to improve spectator facilities at the football ground and to introduce additional pitches so all the teams, from youth teams through to walking football are on one site.
There’s also a plan to incorporate soft play facilities into the new building
“The aim now is to speed ahead”
Chair of Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust, Bob Foster said:
“The trust is delighted to be working closely with the football club and Swanage Town Council in the development of this fabulous, new, much needed, facility for the Swanage community.
“The aim now is to speed ahead to get the sports and leisure centre approved by the planning authority, funded and developed, ready for use, at the earliest opportunity.”