The reasons ageing Tiddenfoot needs to close under plans for new £25million Leighton Buzzard leisure centre explained by councillor

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'There's only one centre required to meet the forecast population in the Local Plan'

Only one leisure centre will be needed to meet the forecast population growth in the Leighton-Linslade area, a Central Beds Councillor has insisted, as plans move ahead to replace ageing Tiddenfoot with a new £25million building at Clipstone.

The indoor facility in the Clipstone Park development area on the eastern edge of Leighton Buzzard will supersede Tiddenfoot in Linslade, which would close once the new premises opens - subject to a consultation process and planning approval for the resulting project.

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Plenty of LBO readers have called for Tiddenfoot to be retained since we first reported on the story yesterday with readers emailing us and commenting on our Facebook pageThese plans have been developed through Central Bedfordshire Council's leisure facilities strategy, a meeting of its executive heard yesterday (Tuesday).

Tiddenfoot would be replaced under the plans for a new leisure centre (Google)Tiddenfoot would be replaced under the plans for a new leisure centre (Google)
Tiddenfoot would be replaced under the plans for a new leisure centre (Google)

"The strategy recommendation was for a new leisure centre and that Tiddenfoot is at the end of its useful life," Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock told the committee. "It's 40-years-old and needs a new building to replace it," she said.

"The report explains the approach to securing the land at the Clipstone area east of Leighton-Linslade development. There's only one centre required to meet the forecast population (growth) in the Local Plan. The Tiddenfoot expansion isn't viable because of site constraints.

"The Clipstone Park (housing) allocation and sport pitches are owned by the developer, and it's the only site which could accommodate a leisure centre without land purchase.

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"An eight-lane swimming pool would allow greater capacity and flexibility of use, as well as supporting the overall financial viability of the proposed centre.

"The strategy says only one sports hall is needed for the current and planned population," added councillor Stock, who's the executive member for health, wellbeing and communities.

"Cedars Upper School has a six-court hall and the school has indicated it would continue to make that and the squash courts available to the community.

"We're hoping by March to have a 12-week consultation with the results of that presented to the executive next summer."

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Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor Amanda Dodwell described it as "absolutely fantastic news", saying: "Tiddenfoot has served the town for 40 years, but a lot of housing growth on Leighton-Linslade has been on the other side of town.

"I also note it will be just off the eastern relief road. I hope we'd provide public transport from the town centre.

"Tiddenfoot has become very dated. You can sit on the edge of the small pool and feel draughts coming through the windows. The pool has been closed periodically when residents want a reliable service.

"Things have got to be moved forward and we need a decent facility for the 21st Century."

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Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey said: "The key point is accessibility. A huge amount hinges on whether you can actually get to it. I'm yet to be convinced that highways and sustainable transport can deliver.

"I hope Cedars will be supported with a sports hall as schools struggle to keep going.

"It could be nice for the new housing, but leave the old housing and current population relatively deprived. Or it could be the most wonderful success story."

Liberal Democrat Linslade councillor Peter Snelling said: "Clearly the investment is welcome, but there are question marks.

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"There's concern over the need for a tight legal agreement with Cedars and over funding. We won't be going out to tender for another couple of years when the cost could be considerably more. There'll be a lot of disappointment at our end of town and at the loss of Tiddenfoot."

Conservative Leighton Buzzard North councillor Ewan Wallace called it "a significant investment into Leighton-Linslade" and "a worthy successor to the venerable service provided by Tiddenfoot".

He added: "It's an aged facility and this is the chance for its replacement to be a state-of-the-art premises."

The executive agreed a package of measures including approval for the consultation process.

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