Rushmoor Borough Council funding "essential works" for the sports facility in Farnborough
Councillors in Farnborough have pledged £25,000 to regenerate a sports facility in St Mark’s ward, seen as being vital to the future of the town’s health and exercise provision.
For 20 years, Queens Road Weightlifting Pavilion has been a crucible for aspiring athletes and has even had the honour of hosting national powerlifting championships.
But the council-owned venue has, in recent years, fallen into disrepair and when its long-term leaseholder opted to call time, there were fears the facility could be demolished.
But now, members of Rushmoor Borough Council’s cabinet committee have agreed a rescue package which will see £25,000 diverted from its capital budget to carry out "essential works" to restore the pavilion.
The cabinet backed a motion to approve funding during a meeting held earlier this month.
Councillor Sue Carter, cabinet member for leisure, said she was delighted an agreement had been reached.
“The money spent will help improve a well-used local facility and support the council’s health and well-being agenda by providing physical activity and social interaction facilities,” she said.
Cllr Carter added the centre should be commended for its work – particularly with ex-offenders – to support the council’s ongoing community safety initiatives.
“We look forward to seeing the completed refurbishment and welcoming the new tenants,” she added.
It comes after two members of Farnborough Weightlifting Club, both residents of the town, agreed to rent the pavilion once the refurbishment is complete and ensure it remains a leading weight-training venue.
In a report by the council’s head of community Peter Amies, it was agreed the pavilion was currently in a "poor condition" and would face demolition unless significant work was carried out.
Two options were put on the table for consideration to secure not only the future of the building, but of the club as well – which has around 60 members on its books, aged between 16 and 50.
The first option was to raze the building and make the site good at a cost of around £10,000. The second was to invest £25,000 capital to extend its life by a further 10 years.
In the event of the new tenants having to vacate, the council has pledged to seek a new tenant or turn the venue over to the voluntary sector rather than seeking demolition.
Cllr Liz Corps, for St Mark’s ward, said she was delighted to see an important sporting provision in the North Camp area sustained.
“There’s not a huge amount by way of facilities here so this is very welcome news,” she said.
“My hope is with this money, the centre will become more high profile.
"Weightlifting is an Olympic sport and to have a centre of excellence here is a real asset.
"And if it encourages more people to get involved and take up sport, that’s a huge bonus.”
Centre plans include new cardio-vascular equipment to encourage a wider range of customers and introduce new initiatives including injury rehabilitation, circuit-training classes, women’s sessions and exercise for older people.