Questions have been raised over a £1.6 million funding black hole for  Chiltern District Council’s (CDC) Amersham leisure centre project – days after the plans were rejected by councillors.

Last week the council’s plans to build a new state-of-the art leisure centre in King George V Road were delayed after concerns were raised over parking and the design of the development.

The new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre would replace Amersham’s ‘outdated’ Chiltern Pools, with plans including a gym, swimming pool, library, community centre and nursery.

However, yesterday there was confusion among members of CDC’s Chiltern Lifestyle Centre Scrutiny Sub-Committee over where £1.6 million of the total £30 million cost of the development would come from.

Council papers state there is currently a £4 million gap in funding for the library, community centre and children’s nursery – which will be plugged with cash made from building houses on the old Chiltern Pools site.

However, councillor for Vale, Nick Varley, pointed out that the value of the Chiltern Pools land is £2.4 million -leaving £1.6 million of funding for the new leisure centre unaccounted for.

He said: “Five per cent of the overall spend is sufficient, at least, to be worthy of proper explanation and clarification in the papers.

“It’s not £50,000 that we might have to sub in if we can’t get it from Sport England, it’s £1.6 million.”

Councillor for Little Chalfont, Don Phillips, added there are a lot of uncertainties in the report, including the predicted membership of the new centre and the length of time it will take to pay back the loan taken out to fund the project.

He said: “Throughout all of this paper, all the way through there’s ‘near enough’, ‘approximately’, ‘could be’, ‘maybe’ -all about a very serious financial commitment.

“We are talking about having a 10 to 15- year contract with the provider of the management operation, elsewhere it’s 15 to 20 years.

“That’s rather important. We are told the current membership is 2,000, sometimes else we are told it’s 2,200.

“We have got to be sure about that. And then we are talking about it could go up to 3,500 or up to 4,400.”

Director of services at CDC, Steve Bambrick, told members it is too early have exact numbers, however more precise information will be provided once the centre has been obtained by the operator.

He said: “We are inevitably at the stage we are at with the project where we are not going to be able to nail down absolute numbers.

“Until you get to the end of the design process you don’t know the total cost. Membership figures are an important element, again, we won’t know a final figure on that until we conclude the procurement process with the operator.

“Unfortunately, you don’t have absolute figures now because of where you are in the process. I get the frustration, but that is an inevitable part of the complex process we have embarked upon.”