East Suffolk Council has renewed its commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of its residents by adopting a new strategy for leisure and sports provision.
The East Suffolk Leisure Strategy will help to ensure that the needs of the community are met by developing the provision of sport and physical activity across the district.
It sets out to guide decisions relating to the Council’s own leisure facilities, while also informing future requirements from new housing developments and as a result of population growth.
Key among the strategy’s aims will be to protect and enhance the existing supply of playing pitches and outdoor sports facilities where needed for meeting current and future demand.
Adopted with unanimous agreement by Cabinet members on Tuesday, the overarching strategy incorporates the Council’s Indoor and Built Sports Facilities Strategy (IBF), Playing Pitch and Outdoor Sport Strategy (PPOSS) and Open Space Report.
A total of 571 sports clubs responded consultation during the development stage of the documents, along with community groups, town and parish councils, schools, health partners and operators.
The resulting up-to-date, evidence-based studies will prioritise areas most in need of improvement and identify ways to potentially improve existing shortfalls – for example, by identifying gaps in the existing green infrastructure network and setting out key principles to ensure the right types of green infrastructure are provided to improve the overall quality of new development.
It will also help the Council achieve its strategic objective of Enabling Communities by providing data that could assist with future funding bids for local improvements.
Cllr Letitia Smith, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, said:
“By adopting this extremely detailed and comprehensive strategy, the Council has guaranteed a planned approach to improving leisure opportunities across the district.
“The key focus was to provide planning related evidence and identify ways to develop improved facilities for residents – to guide future development by understanding the wider needs of the community.
“While we have taken the lead in developing the strategy, it will of course require a collaborative approach – on a national, regional and local level – to deliver the key recommendations and outcomes.
“And by producing a solid, up-to-date evidence base, it can only help our local sports clubs when it comes to making future funding bids to national governing bodies.
“We want our leisure and sports facilities to be sustainable, inclusive and financially secure; to meet community need, increase participation and help tackle social and rural isolation, and of course, to improve health and wellbeing for everyone in East Suffolk.”
East Suffolk Council has overseen a recent programme of investment into its built leisure facilities, including major refurbishments of leisure centres operated by Places Leisure, in Leiston and Woodbridge, and has re-procured the management and operation of two former Waveney District Council facilities, Waterlane and Waveney Valley leisure centres, which have also been refurbished and are now operated by Everyone Active.
Ongoing and emerging projects supported by the Leisure Strategy also include the proposed new Felixstowe Leisure Centre and the Oakes Farm sport and leisure allocation in South Lowestoft.