A public meeting is to go ahead this weekend about the planned closure of Redlands Community Sports Hub after it emerged the site is being considered for housing.

A new provider is planning to take over the running of the outdoor areas, however.

A report that went before the town council on December 1 states: '(Operator) Weymouth College and (landlowner) Dorset Council have conducted a review to identify alternative local leisure facilities for Redlands indoor activities.

'The future of the building is not certain but the site could be used for housing. Current clubs and users of the site have been informed of this.'

A new provider, Active Dorset, is planning to take over the running of outdoor facilities.

Meanwhile, Dorset Council has been working to find alternative local venues for indoor activities and clubs.

The public meeting is being held at the Bay Theatre,​ Weymouth College today (Saturday), 6pm.

At the meeting, Weymouth College and Active Dorset will be providing a presentation with updates on the reviews undertaken, including consultations with groups that use the facility. 

They will also share future proposals and developments for the Redlands site.

Active Dorset, the provider planning to take over the outdoor facilities, will reveal their proposed strategy on leisure and health for the site as well as investment and development work in consultation with the local community.

If you would like to attend but cannot make the event, drop questions or concerns in the comments below and we will ask on your behalf and publish the responses in a forthcoming article. 

Long history

Redlands - formerly Weymouth Sports Club - has a long history in the community having started as a grassroots project by locals who built the facility from scratch by raising funds over the years.

It was rebranded to 'Sports Hub' when Weymouth College took the lease over for a 'peppercorn' rent in 2008 with plans to redevelop the site, including a new athletics facility; however, due reportedly to funding constraints this did not materialise.

The facility is home to a huge range of clubs and activities. The building is also used by the council for local and general election counts.

Situation so far

The facility is owned by Dorset Council who have leased it out to Weymouth College since the former WPBC was dissolved and assets transferred to the new Dorset Council unitary authority.

Due to spiralling costs of the ageing building, the college has decided to break its lease more than 10 years early. The lease was agreed until 2036.

Rob Cole, Vice Principal (Finance) has confirmed that running the centre is costing the college more than £150,000 a year, which it cannot afford, as well as around £2m worth of investment being ploughed into the building.

The college has been meeting with Dorset Council regularly to work out the best way forward and the college has been trying to find another operator to take over the running.

So far a group called Active Dorset has expressed interest - but only for some of the outdoor facilities. 

Meanwhile, Dorset Council looks set to mothball the building - it and the college jointly commissioned a feasibility survey that highlighted the "significant and ongoing financial concern of running an ageing and out-dated leisure centre as well as the growing liabilities for building investment for the site."

Campaign to save Redlands

An action group has been set up by the community in a bid to keep the facility in public use. They will be at the meeting this weekend.

One campaigner said: "(if it closes) there will be very limited places for any indoor sport/activities. In a community of nearly 65,000 people Redlands is the only recreational ‘hub’ we have, it would be tragic to lose it."

Another man who contacted the Echo with concerns said it would be a 'disaster' for Weymouth if it closes.

A petition has also been launched by Dorset councillor for Radipole, Peter Barrow. 

Cllr Barrow, who also serves as a councillor on Weymouth Town Council, does not agree the building is beyond economic repair.

"It is possible to make profit from the facilities - there just needs to be a plan in place."

Public meeting to be held at Weymouth College on Saturday January 15

The meeting will take place at 6 pm at the Bay Theatre, Weymouth College TOMORROW Saturday (January 15).

Weymouth College will be providing a presentation with updates on the reviews undertaken, including user group consultations, future proposals and developments for the Redlands site.

Active Dorset will also be present - they have expressed interest in taking over some of the outdoor areas at Redlands.

Please bring a face mask. Hand sanitiser will be provided at the entrance and seating will be socially distanced.

The college will also ensure there is good ventilation in the theatre during the meeting.

Share your comments and questions below if you would like us to ask at the meeting.

You can also email me at ellie.maslin@dorsetecho.co.uk