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Fairfield Leisure Centre needs £533,000 expansion as Dartford leader admits council is 'victim of its own success'

PUBLISHED: 15:09 23 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:09 23 June 2017

Gym facilities at Fairfield Leisure Centre. Picture:  Ceren Kangal

Gym facilities at Fairfield Leisure Centre. Picture: Ceren Kangal

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A decision will be made

Fairfield Leisure Centre swimming pool. Picture: Ceren KangalFairfield Leisure Centre swimming pool. Picture: Ceren Kangal

Growing demand for a refurbished leisure centre means Dartford council may have to pull a six-figure sum from its pockets.

Fairfield Leisure Centre reopened to the public in February last year after a £12million refurbishment, since then the centre’s gym is already nearing its 3,300 member capacity, and with 440,000 visitors since it opened, there is pressure on space inside the gym and out.

Under plans going to cabinet on Thursday next week, Places for People Leisure, the company running the facility, is asking to bump the number of spaces in its car park from 120 to 155, create a larger gym to accomodate 300 extra members, and broaden its office space for staff.

Leader of the council, Jeremy Kite said the council was “partly a victim of its own success” as it faced a recommendation to approve the works, which could cost up to £500,000.

“Fairfield’s had an extraordinary opening year and as a council we have to make sure we’re meeting the demands residents need,” he said.

“The popularity with the new-look centre means there has been some pressure on parking for residents in nearby Cranford Road, so by approving the plans we’d be able to help residents with parking and improve the centre’s facilities.

“Before Places for People took over we were spending up to £300,000 a year maintaining the centre, now we don’t deal with those costs and we can hope to make the money back as popularity continues to grow.”

If approved, PfP would be expected to pay back 1/25th of the cost of the car parking works, which could cost between £200,000 to £300,000, every year until the end of its contract in 2026, with any remaining costs being reflected in the next contract should one be agreed.

Should the car park cost the predicted £300,000, the company would pay between £8,000 and £12,000 each year.

A further £33,000 is also being asked of the council to create private cubicles at the centre, changing the more open existing facilities.

If approved as recommended, Cllr Kite is hopeful the works could be complete by the winter.

We have approached PFP Leisure for comment.

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