Building a new leisure centre would provide a “golden opportunity” for Amersham residents to discover new hobbies and build a healthier community, according to a former district council chairman.

On Thursday, February 14, Chiltern District Council’s (CDC) planning committee met to discuss major plans to build the Chiltern Lifestyle Centre in King George V Road.

Councillors urged the committee to give the green light to plans – with former chairman, Mimi Harker, saying the new centre would provide a “golden opportunity” to bring various facilities together under one roof.

As well as a gym and swimming pool, CDC’s plans also include a community centre, library, café and nursery.

Cllr Harker said: “Let’s not forget that we really are one of the fittest communities in the country because our area has an absolute love for physical fitness.

“We have one of the greatest healthy lifestyles in the country, and that is due to the fact our community enjoys keeping fit.

“This lifestyle centre will be a huge step in the right direction to achieve people’s personal goals.

“If we were simply to close down the current buildings because they are not fit-for-purpose we would be contributing negatively to the many aspects of life that keep people healthier and happier for longer.”

Current chairman of CDC and Amersham town councillor, Nigel Shepherd, backed cllr Harker’s comments, and warned the committee that if they did not approve the proposals then the town would not have a leisure centre “for a very long time”.

He said: “This council, of which I am proud to be chairman, faces a really stark choice.

“Either replace the tired and verging on shabby facilities we have now whilst we can, or we risk one of two things: We move from a positive or neutral cash flow to a rather large negative one as we try to extend the life of old buildings nearing the end of their economic life.

“Or, we follow the lead of South Bucks and don’t provide a modern, fit for purpose facility for our residents.

“South Bucks, our partner, our neighbour, has one rather tatty sports centre in Holtspur. It’s not anything to be proud of.

“I for one see the role of the council as providing the very best sporting and recreational facilities for our residents.”

Deputy mayor of Amersham, Mark Flys, added the “outdated” Chiltern Pools site is now “uneconomical” to operate, and is becoming “worse every year”.

He added: “Because of the design and condition of Chiltern Pools it is uneconomical to operate and that situation becomes worse every year.

“The current contract expires in 2020 and it will be financially unviable to continue in the present state.

“We need a new facility that will positively benefit our local area.”

Despite the councillors’ comments, CDC’s planning committee deferred the plans after a raft of concerns were raised by residents and councillors over parking on the site and the design of the building.

More work will be carried out on the plans, then the proposals will be presented to the planning committee again before a final decision is made by the full council.