New £9 million leisure centre in the Forest of Dean granted planning permission

A multi-million-pound project to build a new community, education and leisure centre in the Forest of Dean has been approved by councillors following two years of consultation over its design and facilities.

By Jake Chown  |  Published
The centre will include new sports facilities, community and office space and an outreach education centre for Hartpury University.

The building of a new leisure, enterprise and education centre at Five Acres in the Forest of Dean is set to start in the coming months with planning permission granted on Tuesday 13 February 2024.

Forest of Dean District Council applied for permission to begin the first phase of the £9.2 million regeneration project from its development management committee in November 2023, following two years of consultation with design experts and the public along with site preparation works.

The Levelling Up-funded project aims to deliver all-new sports and leisure facilities as well as community, education and business space for thousands of people living and working in the Coleford area and wider Forest of Dean.

Councillor Johnathan Lane, cabinet member for economy, said: 'This is a massive milestone in the progress of our project, as we’re now able to begin construction in the coming months.

'I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the hard-working council staff and partners, including demolition experts Armac, architects AHR, project and cost consultants Pick Everard and leading construction and property developer BAM, who have all helped make Five Acres a reality.

'I’d also like to thank all our residents for their comments and suggestions, which have allowed us to shape Five Acres into a project that the whole community can be proud of.'

The initial phase of the build includes the repurposing of the current Speedwell building — part of the former Gloucestershire College campus — with classrooms set to be converted into new office and community spaces, a cafe and a first-of-its-kind outreach education centre for Hartpury University.

The scheme will connect Speedwell through a glazed atrium and will include the construction of a new multi-purpose four-court sports hall, small performance space, party or dressing rooms and internal changing rooms.

Outside there will be a separate external changing block, a cycle hub and new car parking layout including 12 electric vehicle charging spaces.

The project is being funded by the Forest's successful bid for £20 million of Levelling Up funding from the government, which was secured in 2021.

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