The District Council has approved a significant investment of £450,000 in One Leisure St Ives Outdoor Centre. The investment will see the building of a brand-new Training Shed facility, specialising in functional training, nutrition and injury rehabilitation. This decision to expand the fitness offering in the district is in direct response to achieving our objective to improve health and wellbeing and support people to be the best they can be in Huntingdonshire.
One Leisure’s services are spread across two sites in St Ives, with the Outdoor Centre in the most pressing need for investment and development. The implementation of the new fitness facility at the Outdoor Centre complements the existing Impressions brand that operates across all One Leisure sites, and will provide a holistic approach to fitness and wellbeing that will serve the ever-growing population of St Ives and its surrounding area. This will be a unique facility that is not on offer anywhere else across Huntingdonshire. The increase in a totally different fitness offering will broaden the number of local residents that benefit from One Leisure’s services. It is anticipated that, when established, the new facility will have capacity for over 900 new users.
The new fitness facility will require the repurposing of the One Leisure St Ives Outdoor Centre’s squash courts - a move to combat the financial instability of the Outdoor Centre which currently runs at an annual deficit of £70,000. The new facility is projected to bring the Outdoor Centre to a viable future and marks the beginning of an overall strategy for the site that will help ensure that the site is used to its maximised potential and provides facilities that meet the needs of local people. A feasibility study will be completed by the end of 2019 and will set out a path for future decisions and possible further investment to deliver enhancement of buildings and the broader range of outdoor facilities.
Executive Councillor for Partnerships and Wellbeing, John Palmer, said: "This investment represents a significant step towards our objective of empowering Huntingdonshire residents to live active and healthy lives. The decision to repurpose the squash courts was not an easy one - however Huntingdonshire District Council is committed to the most effective use of its assets. We believe that the proposed new facility is an up-to-date response to the fitness demand across the District."
Independent research from Sport England’s Active Lives Survey shows that squash participation is on a 'significant decline' nationally. This is a trend that has also been felt locally with numbers declining steadily since 2011. Across One Leisure’s sites squash bookings are currently well below capacity, at the St Neots and Huntingdon sites, only 34% and 23% of courts are booked respectively. Comparing that with St Ives where the booking percentage is only at 20%.
Whilst the 324 unique squash users at St Ives will be displaced, the demand for squash can be accommodated at our other closest sites. Huntingdonshire District Council has agreed to work closely with St Ivo Racquets Club to retain its presence in the area.
In recent years, the other One Leisure sites have received heavy capital investment and have since become financially stable, generating a return which secures the future of these centres. The increase in offering at the St Ives Outdoor facility will broaden the number of local residents that benefit from One Leisure’s services, the next stage in developing and improving the facilities and services available to Huntingdonshire residents.