Cost of new seafront leisure centre rises to £28 million

Sovereign Centre,  Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-161123-082349008
Sovereign Centre, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-161123-082349008

The cost of building a new swimming and leisure centre on Eastbourne seafront has rocketed by more than £4 million as an updated design has been revealed.

When the council first mooted the idea of a new seafront venue next to the Sovereign Centre in 2016, the cost was put at £24.2 million, but this has now jumped to an estimated £28.3m, which the local authority will fund by borrowing money at reduced rates.

Artist's impression of the new Sovereign Centre design SUS-180507-140238001

Artist's impression of the new Sovereign Centre design SUS-180507-140238001

The revised design includes the main pool being enlarged along with a diving pit, a four court sports hall and clip and climb facility.

But the fresh plan omits a Flow Rider and trampoline hall.

Eastbourne council says the latest design – replacing the current centre which was constructed in the 1970s but is now tired and outdated – reflects lengthy consultation with the public and the new building will “meet the needs of residents and visitors while reducing the current annual running cost” of around £350,000.

The council also considered the refurbishment of the existing centre which at the time was estimated to cost some £12.5m but rejected the idea saying it would not provide long term value for money, be less commercially attractive to operators and with substantial disruption to users throughout construction.

A council spokesperson said, “This new design will provide a family and leisure sport destination which would draw residents, holidaymakers and day visitors.

“It meets the council objectives to provide a facility for wet day visitors, encourage use of the eastern part of the seafront, promote the town as a visitor attraction for young families and to address the needs of our foreign students, university students and young residents.”

The plan, insists the council, is to keep the Sovereign Centre open throughout construction of the new facility.

There will also be a change of management at the existing centre, currently managed by Eastbourne Leisure Trust and Serco, from next March and

Wave Leisure Trust, which operates leisure facilities for Lewes council, will take over.

The updated design and costing is likely to be given the green light by members of the council’s cabinet committee at a meeting on Wednesday night at Eastbourne Town Hall.