Major plans to build new leisure centre in Amersham faced a setback last week, after a raft of concerns were raised by councillors over a lack of parking spaces and the ‘carbuncle’ design of the development. 

Chiltern District Council’s (CDC) planning committee made the decision to delay proposals to build the Chiltern Lifestyle Centre in King George V Road during a meeting on Thursday.

The scheme – which would replace the “outdated” Chiltern Pools  – includes a 25-metre pool, gym, community centre, library and café as well as sports courts and a climbing wall.

However, the longstanding plans have now faced a setback after a raft of concerns were raised by councillors and members of the public during Thursday’s public meeting.

Amersham resident, Patrick Carroll, objected to the development – stating the 233 parking spaces proposed by CDC is actually less than what is provided at the current centre, which is half the size.

He added the proposed centre is “too big” for the site and there is no space for coaches to park while school pupils are dropped off for swimming lessons.

Mr Carroll said: “To quote a phrase used by this planning committee in rejecting a domestic extension application opposite this site, this proposal would be “prominent and intrusive in the street scene”, and should be rejected as being unworkable and redesigned to produce a scheme that is of a scale and appearance to blend in with our town centre, or simply be taken out of town.

“Please, work with our community to make this a success.”

Cllr Nick Rose said the “black box” design of the sports hall at the back of the building is not in keeping with the area, adding the “carbuncle” structure “killed” the development “stone dead”.

Cllr Jane MacBean said she felt the sports hall “sticks out like a sore thumb”, so would rather it had a glass and timber design similar to the rest of the building.

She added: “I do have a problem with the black box on the back of the building. I appreciate how maybe the architect has tried to give a nod to the dark timbering barn and the other protected buildings, but in my personal opinion it just doesn’t work.

“It doesn’t sit in the local surroundings, it’s completely incongruous and I would rather have another combination of the wood and glass because it just sticks out like a sore thumb.”

However, councillor Mimi Harker, who does not sit on the planning committee, spoke in support of the development – stating it is a “golden opportunity” to bring “fantastic community facilities together under one roof”.

She added: “It is a golden opportunity to bring to fantastic community facilities together under one roof, creating a community hub for activity, social and sporting and lifestyle in our wider community.

“We have a golden opportunity to bring the community together, different generations together by creating a space where people can meet and mingle, share activities, stay fit, or simply have a cup of tea and a catch up where there really is something for everyone.”

Cllr Jonathan Rush said he would be supporting the plans as he felt they have the “wow factor”, and the “huge public benefits” outweighs “regrettable harm to open spaces and loss of trees”.

However, councillors voted against the plans, calling for more work to be carried out on parking, the design of the building and establishing the overall impact the leisure centre will have on the surrounding area.

The application will be considered by CDC’s planning committee again before it is presented to full council for a final decision.