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£30m leisure centre plans branded 'short sighted' over Olympic boosted sports
PLANS for the proposed new £30m Handy Cross leisure complex have been branded 'short sighted' for not catering for minority sports boosted by the Olympics.
Council chiefs were criticised last night for not better accommodating sports enjoying a higher profile after London 2012, such as water polo.
The High Wycombe Sub Aqua Club has been campaigning for like for like facilities at the leisure centre to secure its future but shifted the attention to other minority sports with a question last night.
Clive Bennett, representing the club, told the Wycombe District Council meeting: “Synchronised swimming, men’s and women’s water polo, and platform diving are all sports with higher profiles and potential as a result of London 2012.
“Yet existing clubs and facilities for these sports throughout Buckinghamshire are currently minimal or non-existent.
“A design policy for the new aquatic facilities at Handy Cross derived principally from current usage statistics will inevitably prove short-sighted and inaccurate.
“Sir Steve Redgrave credits the existing centre for the start it gave him, but his success since 1978, transforming the popularity and availability of rowing to a wider community, exemplifies my point.”
He asked for assurances that all aquatic sports would be catered for, and not just swimming.
Deputy Leader Cllr Arif Hussain, who has been leading on the sports centre plan, said designs are based on extensive consultation.
He said: “There has been no demonstrable demand for synchronised swimming or polo.”
Mr Bennett asked if Sport England has been sought out for grants and Cllr Hussain said he would enquire but did not believe any attempts for such money had been successful. He said there was no external funding.
The sub aqua club also questioned at the meeting why plans for various sports including their own, agreed by councillors, had been allowed to be changed by officers.
Cllr Hussain said: "Initially the plans were indicative of how the facilities mix could be accommodated within the building's footprint.”
The proposal has gone through a design development stage and soft market testing with six leading leisure operators, he said, explaining: "They told us what we were doing needs to be changed."
The sub aqua club's concerns centre around the depth of the new pool.
Cllr Hussain said the sub aqua group, which has been based at Handy Cross for 37 years, was being accommodated in the new centre but the council has a limited budget.