Urmston leisure centre lined up for transfer
Trafford Council is looking to complete a Community Asset Transfer that will see the George H Carnall leisure centre taken on by a Community Interest Company in January 2021.
Plans for a £35m redevelopment of the site off Lostock Road came forward in 2018 under Trafford’s Conservative administration, with plans to include a 2,000-seat arena for the Manchester Giants basketball team, 60 homes for key workers and a health centre.
Upon a change in Trafford’s leadership following local elections, plans for the area’s leisure provision went back to public consultation, on the basis that once the Urmston leisure centre on Bowfell Road was redeveloped the project could move forward – with ISG now having delivered that £7m redevelopment of what is now billed as Move Umrston, the Carnall plans can move forward.
On Monday, Trafford Council’s executive will be asked to approve the transfer of the 1970s-built Carnall centre to the CIC on a 25-year lease. The arrangement will also involve the council signing off £23,500 from its current capital programme for immediate works to keep the centre fit for purpose, and the agreement that the council will pay for any works up to £50,000 on council assets at the site up to the end of 2022.
The council will also make a £96,000 loan to GCCG – George Carnall Community Group – to provide working capital, allowing it to train and pay staff, along with installing tech and payment systems. GCCG will pay a peppercorn rent at the site.
The centre is expected to provide a complementary offer to the grander offering at Move Urmston: the Carnall site offers a gym, sports hall and squash courts, while Move Urmston boasts a 25m pool and climbing wall among its facilities.
GCCG, whose list of directors includes Davyhulme East ward councillor Cllr Barry Winstanley, has set out a business plan including plans to bring a programme of health and wellbeing activities to Davyhulme, linking in with a number of health trust operations already based at the site, which include outpatient, pulmonary, specialist weight management and neurological rehabilitation teams.
According to Trafford’s report, work is under way to secure formal leases with the NHS Foundation Trusts for the spaces it uses at the centre, which would guarantee income of around £40,000 a year; while in the longer term £1.4m will need to be found for maintenance, works the council said it cannot fund. The centre was valued at £980,000 in 2016.
Other examples of Community Asset Transfers include Withington Baths, which reported that it was running the facility without council support prior to the Covid pandemic, and Harlech Leisure Centre, which is supported by councils.