CAUTION URGED OVER MAJOR COUNTY SPORTS SCHEME
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CAUTION URGED OVER MAJOR COUNTY SPORTS SCHEME

Serious concerns have been expressed about plans for an Olympic-sized swimming pool and other major sports facilities near Worcester by the MP for the area, Peter Luff
Serious concerns have been expressed about plans for an Olympic-sized swimming pool and other major sports facilities near Worcester by the MP for the area, Peter Luff.

Development firm Sir Bert Millichip Sports Ltd (SBMS) wants to build a multi-million pound sports centre in the Hindlip area to the north of the city, but Mr Luff says more information is needed before he can support the proposal.

Peter explained,

"Everyone's in favour of the county having the finest possible sporting facilities, but not at any price. This private sector proposal may some have merit, but I have a lot of concerns about it.

"This plan is contingent on this company being allowed to build significantly more than the 500 new homes already provisionally planned for the Fernhill Heath area. That's a massive development. Wychavon district council is currently considering where to put the 500 homes and accommodating even more would pose huge challenges. All of this development - sports centre and probably many of the homes - would be on green belt, which is supposed to provide protection from the never-ending urban sprawl. Much less significant proposals for the area have already been rejected - and rightly so."


Mr Luff also raised concerns about increased traffic - and scepticism about the proposal by the developers to build a railway halt at Fernhill Heath

"This will not be an Olympic swimming pool for the city of Worcester," he said. "They want to build it well outside the city. People would be coming from all over to use it. That brings its own problems. If it's well used, many people would be coming by car, and that really is a problem because junction six of the M5 is so busy already. If, as the developers are now saying, it will used by only small numbers and the emphasis of the whole development is on excellence for a few, then they don't need - and won't build - the railway halt."

Mr Luff also questioned the likely impact on existing council-owned pools,

"There are pools at Droitwich, Worcester, Kidderminster, Pershore, Evesham and Malvern already - we must be careful that this pool doesn't just take customers and revenue from these pools. Or will it really be an exclusive private club for a privileged few?"

"I am not saying at this stage that I oppose the scheme - but I am saying that this hugely ambitious project looks a bit too good to be true - and if it looks that way, it probably is.

"My own guess is that considerably more than the profits from 500 new homes will be needed to fund this development, whether it's good for the county or not - and that creates a whole raft of new problems. In the current climate, it would be many years until, those profits came through - and when they were built, it would transform this part of the county from pleasant green belt to a tightly packed small town. Is that what we really want?"

ENDS


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