Councillors give green light to new Rainham leisure centre plans
- Credit: Havering Council
Councillors voted to approve plans for a new leisure centre in Rainham.
The facility, proposed by Havering Council, is set to be built on the site of Rainham Recreation Ground, in Viking Way.
A report said it will include a swimming pool, gym and fitness/dance studios, with parking to be provided in the council-operated pay and display car park to the west of the site.
It added that the plans would see a loss of open space, but that existing play and outdoor gym equipment would be relocated. The scheme is also proposed to include a community orchard and sensory garden.
The planning application was decided upon at a meeting of the strategic planning committee on Thursday night.
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Councillor David Durant, ward member for Rainham and Wennington where the leisure centre is planned for, said it was "great news" for the town.
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Cllr Tim Ryan added: "I welcome this structure. It's going to make a huge difference to all of the residents of Rainham."
Some concerns were raised by the committee, such as issues of flooding and security.
Cllr Ray Best suggested raising the height of the building or constructing a brick wall around it to ward against flooding.
He added: "It does concern me about the flood defences. It seemed much more sensible to consider them now rather than waiting for a few years and we end up two foot deep in water and then start to think about them because it's going to cost millions of pounds to rectify."
Simon Thelwell, the council's head of strategic development, said that the building would have a raised ground floor level but said it is up to the Environment Agency to decide if that is sufficient.
Cllr Reg Whitney raised concerns about the site being subject of vandalism without fencing, but Helen Oakerbee, assistant director of planning, said CCTV would be in place and said there had been no anti-social behaviour issues at the new Central Park Leisure Centre in Harold Hill, which doesn't have perimeter fencing.
Cllr Graham Williamson praised plans for upgrading land on the other side of Viking Way to offset the loss of open space, which was previously suggested by committee members, but called for fencing to keep children safe.
He said: "That's a busy road going to Tesco and coming out of Tesco. You can imagine the safety issue. If you've got children playing there and there's no kind of fencing, there'll be an accident sooner or later."
He also quizzed planning officers on whether an agreement had been made with Tesco on whether leisure centre users could utilise the car park for its superstore, also on Viking Way.
Planning officer John Kaimakamis said the boundary comments would be taken on board.
On the parking issue, he added: "My understanding is discussions were held but it didn't result in any formal agreement. However, Tesco did state that they would not be averse to users of the leisure centre using the wider car park."
The Viking Way site was chosen last year as the proposed site for the leisure centre after a consultation saw two-thirds of people prefer it over an alternative on the grounds of the Havering College campus in New Road.
The town’s previous leisure centre, Chafford Sports Complex, closed after the council agreed to stop funding it in 2019.
Council leader Damian White said: “I am delighted to announce that we’ve reached this key milestone.
“We are one step closer to giving everybody in Havering the opportunity to use brand new facilities to get active, support their mental health and live happy, healthy lives.”
The Environment Agency objected to the application on the grounds that a revised flood risk assessment was required.
Councillors unanimously gave the plans the green light, with the approval subject to resolution of the objection.