Consultants brought in to deliver Westbridge Park leisure plan

Westbridge Park
The tennis courts at Westbridge Park – site of the proposed M&S Simply Foods store

Stafford Borough Council is working with Birmingham-based consultants to see new leisure facilities at Westbridge Park in Stone “through to fruition”.

Mace – which has recently worked on transforming Birmingham’s New Street station – will now be working with the council to deliver the £6 million leisure project in Stone.

The Mace website states: “Mace is an international consultancy and construction company, offering integrated services across the full property and infrastructure life cycle. Our experts in programme and project management, construction delivery, cost consultancy and facilities management thrive within our collaborative and entrepreneurial culture, constantly striving to find better solutions to complex infrastructure and property challenges.”

Planned new leisure facilities at Stone’s Westbridge Park include a new leisure centre with a six-lane swimming pool, and a children’s and teenage play area. A possible new sports hall and 3g artificial soccer pitch at Alleyne’s Academy and improved football pitches at Walton Common also feature in the proposals, with a new M&S Simply Foods Store on the already developed land in the park helping fund the project. As part of the scheme local guides will also be relocated into a purpose built new guide hut.

The proposals – especially selling part of Westbridge Park for the M&S store – have proved controversial – have a look at our timeline to see why. The borough council told us in November last year that a planning application for the M&S store would be lodged by Christmas. There’s still no sign of it.

The council said today, however, that Stone’s new leisure centre should be completed by February 2018.

Paul Robertson, project Manager at Mace, said: “We appreciate how important the project in Stone is for the borough and look forward to working with the Council on seeing it through.”

Meanwhile, Stafford-based V4 Services Ltd will be involved in helping deliver plans to safeguard leisure and cultural facilities across the borough.

The Council is looking at how some of the leisure services it provides could be run by a charitable trust. Becoming a trust would allow costs to be reduced, could also lead to greater buying power, and is expected to save the authority around £540,000 a year – while protecting existing services.

The move will protect popular venues and events such as Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, Shakespeare at the Castle, and leisure centres in Stafford and Stone. And the Council is not looking to cut jobs as part of the plans.

Some functions, such as the management of Victoria Park and Wildwood Park in Stafford, will still be run by the Council. The council says the proposed developments for the new leisure centre and play facilities at Westbridge Park would also be unaffected by the move.

The Council has earmarked £150,000 to implement the proposals by October 2017 and there will be a national search for a partner to run the services as a charitable trust.

Stephen Laird, V4’s Director of Development, said: “We work across the UK but to be involved in this particular project in Stafford, the town where we are based, is fantastic. We see ourselves as delivery partners, working alongside the Council to achieve their ambitious plans for providing first class facilities and services to the community.”

Adam Hill, Head of Leisure and Culture at the Borough Council, said: “We are pleased to be working with two local businesses on these important projects. Both have a strong track record of delivering results and they also have great links within our borough, which will be a key element in seeing these initiatives through to fruition.”

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