UPDATE 13/7/16 This petition has now closed and 168 signatures will be submitted to the planning committee by Tristan Harris.
A local man has launched a campaign to get a sauna and steam room included in plans for the £8 million rebuild of Northfield Leisure Centre.
Tristan Harris has started a petition so users of the facilities can put their views to Serco Group PLC which is overseeing the redevelopment project.
‘Downgrading of services’
Mr Harris said that, during a consultation about the future plans for the centre at The Factory in Longbridge two years ago, attendees were assured that all the facilities in the current Northfield Pool and Fitness Centre would be available in the new leisure centre.
He said: “Myself and a lot of others I know have been using the sauna and steam room for decades and, after the assurances we were given during the consultation, everyone assumed a sauna and steam room would be included in the plans for the new one.
“But, to our dismay and disappointment, when the proposals were put on display, there was no sauna and no steam room – I use the facilities three or four times a week – sometimes in the morning and sometimes in the evening and there are always a number of different people in there.
“I admit it is excellent news that Northfield will be getting this new multi-million pound leisure centre but a lot of people like myself, because of Serco’s proposals, see this as an actual downgrading of services.
“If these plans stay the way they are, we will finish up with less facilities than we have at the moment and I feel the decision not to include a sauna and steam room will also have a detrimental effect on visitor numbers.
“Already a number of people I know have told me they will not bother returning to a centre which does not have a sauna and steam room.”
Nearest sauna: 11 miles to Erdington’s ‘Turkish Suite’
There is a sauna and steam room at Tiverton Road but, when the new Northfield Leisure Centre opens, that building will close. The nearest Birmingham Community Leisure Trust centre with sauna and steam room facilities then will be 11 miles away in Erdington.
Mr Harris added: “I had a look at the Erdington centre and it has a whole ‘Turkish Suite’ with three hot rooms of various temperatures, sun loungers, two steam rooms, one dry sauna and a plunge pool – all we are asking for is one sauna and one steam room – that’s a third of what they have in Erdington.
“Currently the sauna and steam room are at the end of the pool and, looking at the new plans for the new Northfield Leisure Centre, there is more than enough room at the end of the pool to have a similar arrangement there.
“I’m hoping as many pool, sauna and steam room users will join me and add their name to the petition and write to Birmingham City Council about these much-needed facilities that should be available in the new leisure centre.”
As part of the plans, there will also be no replacement of the ICE youth gym, a facility equipped specifically for 8-16 year olds.
If you support Mr Harris’ campaign, you can sign the petition below or call into The Clock Cafe to sign the paper copy. The petition will close on July 12th.
For more details on the full plans and how to submit your views, see Have Your Say: Planning application for new Northfield Leisure Centre & Pool