Agenda item

Agenda item

Hermitage Leisure Centre Building - Future Direction

The report of the Strategic Director.

Presented by the Housing and Customer Services Portfolio Holder.


Having declared an interest in the item Councillor T Gillard left the meeting for the consideration of the item.


The Property and Customer Services Portfolio Holder advised that although he had received correspondence which pertained to this agenda item and had sat on both Community and Corporate Scrutiny Committees, he would consider the matter with an open mind. He then presented the report to members.


Members were advised that Hermitage Leisure Centre closed in February 2022 following the opening of the New Whitwick and Coalville Leisure Centre. The former Leisure Centre buildings had been mothballed since closure, but it continued to cost the Council £17,500 per month on essential utilities, security and vacant business rates.


Surveys commissioned show that whilst there was a backlog of maintenance issues throughout the whole building (roof, glazing, structural framework and heating systems) the former pool, health suite and squash courts were in worse condition than the sports hall and that to carry out repairs would cost the authority £2.1m with the resultant asset being worth £1.2m.


Whitwick parish council and Coalville CAN had made a strong plea that NWLDC should continue to make the Hermitage Leisure Centre buildings available to the local community, with the whole building retained although they had indicated that retention of the sports hall alone may meet their aspirations.


The former Leisure centre building was subject to an Asset Of Community Value registration lodged by Whitwick Parish Council and the status would be considered as a Material Consideration whenever a planning application to redevelop was made and determined.




Councillor M Hay addressed the meeting and proposed that part of the building be retained in order to be used by community groups and he reiterated that there had been opposition to proposals of using the site for affordable, social housing. Councillor M Hay felt that instead of demolishing the HLC buildings and developing housing, the retention of the HLC buildings would be an achievable way for community groups to obtain a building.


Councillor R Bayliss responded that he was  obliged to follow officers’ advice in terms of the cost of the exercise and asserted that it would be only a selective section of the community who would not want the site to be used for housing. It was also noted that it was felt there had been insufficient representation from people who would wish to reside in Whitwick but for whom there had been no opportunity to do so due to lack of housing.


The Chair thanked Councillor M Hay for highlighting both the pros and cons of retaining the existing buildings and wished to affirm his own support for groups such as Coalville CAN and what they had been seeking to do, however it was also acknowledged that there  was a need for more affordable social housing.


Councillor A Woodman noted that he had toured the current buildings and reminded the meeting that the new premises had been built because the old site had too many issues. To repair these issues would have resulted in unfeasibly high costs to bring it to a useable standard. Given the costs required to keep the building mothballed, Councillor A Woodman opined that it would be better to invest in the recreation ground and to demolish the old buildings.


Members commented that the County Councillor and local ward members had not been contacted at all with regard to this matter and had only received positive comments in relation to the development of the site. It was also noted thatCoalville CAN only spoke for a minority of constituents in Whitwick.


Councillor R Ashman informed the meeting that a similar scenario had arisen in his own ward and that the leisure centre in that ward had cost the local Parish Council heavily in terms of time and money. It was noted that the management of this site had eventually been outsourced by necessity. He iterated that to retain the buildings of the old HLC would be a huge responsibility and that he believed the recommendations would be the preferable option.


It was moved by Councillor R Bayliss, seconded by Councillor A Woodman and




The report including the options regarding the future of the former Hermitage Leisure Centre building (HLC) be considered by Cabinet.


2) The diverse comments and views expressed by the Community Scrutiny Committee summarised in section 8 of the report and contained in full in appendix 7, be noted.


3) The demolition of the HLC buildings for the reasons set out in the report, and delegated responsibility for any arrangements required to facilitate the demolition to the Head of Property and Economic Development be agreed.


4) It be agreed that the Council will retain the freehold title of the land occupied by the former HLC buildings and car parking, to be used for the delivery of other council services, in accordance with the Council’s Corporate Disposals Policy.


5) The appropriation of the land occupied by the former HLC and car parking from the general fund to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) as described in the report (Annex 6 indicatively sets out the area of land to be appropriated (subject to due process and finalisation)) be agreed, provided that it:


A)   Does not compromise the leisure covenant on the site;


B)   Complies with Policy En5 of the Local Plan (namely does not encroach on the area of separation); and c) retains within the general fund, an area of car parking for local residents.


6) Responsibility for the appropriation process be delegated to the Strategic Director with responsibility for property in consultation with the S151 officer and appropriate Portfolio Holders.


7) Cabinet will at future dates, receive business cases for the proposed improvements to the Hermitage Recreation Ground. The final proposals in these business cases will be in line with the direction of travel outlined in Section 3.26 of this report but refined to take on board the community engagement results and the release of funds to the general fund through the appropriation of the HLC site be noted.


Reason for Decision:

A decision on the future of the Hermitage Leisure Centre buildings is required in order to comply with the Corporate Disposals Policy. The proposed course of action will enable the asset to be used by another council service to delivery council priorities. The decision does not compromise future consideration of a strategy for investment in the Hermitage Recreation Ground.


Supporting documents: