Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet has given the green light for proposals that will drive forward the delivery of Farnborough’s new state-of-the-art leisure centre and cultural hub and help transform the town centre.
The major redevelopment project will include a new leisure centre, which will offer an eight-lane swimming pool, intermediate pool with moveable floor, six-court sports hall, fitness and spin studios, and soft play, together with a large café and space for performance.
The cultural hub will include space for an art gallery, digital lab, collaboration space and studios. Outside, there will be a new skate park and play area.
In addition, the development will provide accommodation for the council offices and voluntary sector, and potentially a new library and associated community space, along with parking.
The proposals were unanimously approved at a special meeting on Tuesday (3), when the Cabinet also agreed to progress with preparing detailed designs for the development, ready to submit a planning application early next year; the funding strategy required for the £68 million scheme; and a timetable that will see the new hub open in early 2027.
The council will be going out to the market immediately for a contractor ready to run the new leisure centre and Aldershot Pools complex.
Earlier this year, the council learnt it had been successful in its bid for £20 million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund towards the cost of the new hub.
The Cabinet heard that new scheme would reflect these proposals in the bid, but also include space for the council and its partners, including Citizens Advice, Rushmoor Voluntary Services, Hampshire County Council, and the Hampshire Cultural Trust. This, in turn, would free up the council office site for redevelopment, as set out in the Civic Quarter masterplan, with the sale of the site covering the cost of the move and creating a small surplus towards the wider scheme.
The library, the councillors were told, would only move from its old building when the new one was completed and would be provided at no extra cost to Hampshire County Council, subject to the business case being approved and appropriate consultation with residents and communities.
The new cultural space would help meet the long-identified demand for more artistic, creative and community space in Farnborough and bring local people together in the heart of the town.
Councillor Martin Tennant, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for major projects and property at Rushmoor Borough Council, said: “This is a fantastic milestone in the delivery of the new leisure centre and cultural hub for our residents. The Cabinet is delighted to be driving forward the building and opening of the new development and we can’t wait to see it finished! The next stage will be the designs and planning consent and once these are in place, we can start building.”
Hampshire County Council Leader, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “These proposals come at a time when all local authorities are having to look at ways to do things differently and work even more efficiently to achieve the best value for money for residents, within the resources available. In this context, it is sensible for us to consider all options for greater collaboration with partners. The potential for relocating the library within a purpose-built hub is one we are keen to explore and, if taken forward, would provide residents with a more modern facility, conveniently located near to other leisure amenities and fundamental local services. We look forward to considering the business case for such a move in further detail and working with colleagues at Rushmoor Borough Council in the process.”