PLANS to put in a unisex changing village at Stratford Leisure Centre instead of the existing single-sex changing rooms has been met with almost “universal condemnation” from users.
Improvements are being made to the leisure centre this year in a £5 million refurbishment project due to start this spring.
Although users are pleased the money is being pumped into the building that “desperately needs a refurbishment”, they’re not happy about the unisex changing rooms.
“Without any doubt the majority are against the village concept,” said 82-year-old Neville Shannon, who goes to the leisure centre three times a week.
“There’s pretty much universal condemnation of that part of the plan.”
Along with others, the Shipston Road resident has been canvassing users during his visits, but some were unaware the £5 million refurbishment was even taking place.
Initially, Stratford District Council – which owns the leisure centre – had asked for feedback on the plans over Christmas, but users complained that the changes were being swept in without proper consultation.
The council then extended the consultation period by two more weeks until yesterday, Monday.
Residents have now got some councillors on their side. Justin Kerridge, district councillor for the Sambourne ward, uses the leisure centre every week.
He said: “I am opposed to the re-modelling of the existing single-sex changing rooms to a “changing village”, essentially creating a single area similar to the existing family changing room.
“Having experience of both styles, I find single-sex changing rooms far more sociable, comfortable and easier to use and don’t see why our money should be spent removing a good thing to replace it with a worse.
“Of course I can only comment on male changing rooms but believe there are many women who think similarly.”
There are also concerns over the sauna and steam room, which appear to be downsized in the plans but the majority of the proposed changes are being welcomed.
Improvements to the pool, and refurbishment of the sports hall accompany an increase in studio space which will allow for more exercise classes.
The reception and catering facilities will also be redesigned and general building improvements will give the leisure centre a more modern look and feel.
Perhaps the most eye-catching addition is a £289,000 climbing facility in the foyer, around the area of the currently-redundant turret.
Although Neville and others have questioned its cost – it’s the second most expensive item in the plans – it is likely to prove popular with children.
The £5 million refurbishment is due to start in spring and some facilities will be closed while work takes place.
It is expected the pool will be shut for approximately three months.
Plans will be finalised now the consultation period has finished.
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