New climbing wall in Lowestoft could cost Waveney District Council £92,000

Waterlane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher

Waterlane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Archant © 2011

More than £90,000 could be spent on replacing a leisure centre climbing wall which was closed due to health and safety fears.

Waveney District Council believes replacing and upgrading the wall – which was condemned at an inspection earlier this year – at Waterlane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft, could save the authority £18,083 per year in lost income.

It has chosen the most expensive option in a cost range of £45,000 to £92,586.50, saying that replacing the wall like-for-like would negate the loss of income but 'does not provide the offer to fully maximise return and participation'.

The plans will be outlined to councillors at a meeting at Riverside today (Wednesday).

A report to councillors said: 'The current wall has been decommissioned due to health and safety concerns. Cost options range from between £45,000 and £92,586.50. The preferred option will cost £92,586.50.'

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This investment 'will save the council £18,083 per year in terms of loss of income', according to the report, with the proposal 'to fund the wall through the capital programme'.

The report adds: 'An inspection in May 2017 of the wall by an independent examiner has seen the wall condemned and closed.

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'As a result, all bookings, instructor lead sessions and memberships have been cancelled.'

There is likely to be three options considered:

n Do nothing, which will cost the council £18,083 per year in loss of income and see a drop in participation at Waterlane

n Replace the wall on a like-for-like basis, at a cost of £45,000, which negates the loss of income and drop in participation but 'does not provide the offer to fully maximise return and participation'

n The 'preferred option' of replacement, improvement and extension to the climbing wall at a cost of £92,586.50, 'with a modern clip and climb offer, including eight auto-belay devices.'

The report recommends that 'cabinet approves the replacement and upgrading of the wall to include an auto-belay system at a cost of £92,586.50' and that 'Sentinel Leisure Trust manage the operation of the wall in order to increase revenues and membership levels'.

The council outsourced the management of Waterlane to Sentinel Leisure Trust a few years ago.

Proposed facility would be 'state-of-the-art'

Speaking ahead of this evening's meeting, Graham Catchpole - Waveney's cabinet member for operational partnerships – said: 'The existing wall came to the end of its natural life and Sentinel took the decision to close the wall in consultation with Waveney District Council following an engineer's report earlier in the year.

'If supported by cabinet, the new wall will double the space of the existing facility and it is hoped that this will lead to a significant increase in use. The selected design will encourage use by parties, groups and clubs.

'Indoor climbing is the UK's fastest growing sport. Climbers in East Suffolk are not well served at the moment, with the nearest comparable facility being at the UEA in Norwich, or in Stowmarket.

'This investment will ensure that local climbers have a state-of-the-art facility to use, and that newcomers to the sport can enjoy climbing in East Suffolk.'

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