Sports centre slip up

OFFICIALS were left red-faced today after a catalogue of errors jeopardised the future of a £750,000 new Suffolk sports centre, the Evening Star can reveal.

OFFICIALS were left red-faced today after a catalogue of errors jeopardised the future of a £750,000 new Suffolk sports centre, the Evening Star can reveal.

Coddenham's Jubilee Sports Centre, which received one of the biggest lottery grants ever awarded to such a project, was due to be completed tomorrow.

But failure to comply with conditions laid down when the development was given the go-ahead saw permission for it withdrawn.

This was because a report into sound-proofing, which has now been completed, was not done in time.

Even though it quashed the consent, Mid Suffolk District Council now maintains the facility can open.

A spokesman said: "Coddenham Parish Council has covered itself because it has submitted a new planning application outlining the work they've carried out.

Most Read

"If the council is satisfied with this, there should be no problem in approving the new application. While it's being considered, the council will take no action if the building opens.

"This is quite an unusual case in that it refers to recent changes in planning law."

Although the all-clear has been given, the centre is still unlikely to open on time because the parish council owners have been advised against it.

Donald Burton, who admitted a "lack of communication" has blighted the entire scheme, said: "The advice from our builders is that it should not be used because it would be in contravention of planning laws, so we won't open until planning permission has been granted."

The whole saga has left a bitter taste for villagers, who were looking forward to benefiting from the exciting new facility.

When open, outdoor tennis courts, bowling greens and basketball courts will all be on offer. This is in addition to a multi-function hall, changing facilities and a kitchen.

Chris Baber, chairman of the Coddenham Community Forum, said: "We've got a fantastic facility on our doorsteps and we just need to put a rocket up some people to get it open.

"If it doesn't open it could turn into a massive white elephant for this village. This is a community of just over 200 houses and this is an enormous project for somewhere of this size.

"You have to remember that any shortfall will go on the council tax precept and that would be a lot of money for us to have to pay."

In addition to a £425,000 lottery grant, the parish council also took out a 25-year £150,000 loan and agreed to sell the old village hall for £200,000 to meet the bulk of the cost.

Mid Suffolk District Council also donated £35,000 at the beginning of the project.

This has led to accusations from the parish council that it should have raised its issues with the development earlier.

But the district council argue it was the responsibility of the parish to comply with the conditions set out.

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or join the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter