Response to Stafford Borough Council press release

The document, Westbridge Park – Stone Leisure Facilities Strategy, indicates a need for a new sports and fitness centre, new football pitches and improved play facilities. The required size of leisure centre that is indicated in the report is the size of a football pitch and that is only the leisure centre building itself. It does not include a car park or any high quality play facilities for all ages.  

Add the sizes of the new building, car park and play facilities together and it’s clear to anyone that such a development would not fit on the existing Leisure centre site or indeed in the area on the left hand side of Westbridge Park. To build such a development would mean having to encroach onto the area where the existing football pitches are, the area that is used by; the Stone Festival , Stone Food & Drink festival and other users. 

The Stone Leisure Facilities Strategy states that it is designed to complement the emerging Stafford Borough local plan (The Plan for Stafford Borough).But another document that is used within the Plan for Stafford Borough is the Stafford and Stone Town Centre Capacity Assessment and it states: 

“7.36 The Westbridge Park site offers the only edge of centre opportunity to deliver a major supermarket that would be able to address the current overtrading identified at the existing Morrisons store. The site is level and could accommodate a purpose built store with either undercroft or surface level car parking. If strong links with the existing town centre are to be encouraged then careful consideration will need to be given to the orientation of any development on the site including the entrance to the store. 

7.37 Any redevelopment is likely to involve the removal and relocation of the existing leisure centre and the associated tennis courts, girl guides building and children’s playgrounds. WYG do not believe that demolition and the relocation of such uses would undermine the viability of any scheme in this locality. However, finding an alternative location may prove more difficult. The Council will need to carefully consider any potential relocation options if the site is to be released for redevelopment. There may even be the potential to re-provide these uses on-site.” 

Both documents are heading in the same direction. It’s my belief that a Super Market would be also built on Westbridge Park to help fund such leisure developments. 

Stafford Borough Council needs to make it clear what their intentions are with regards to retail development on Westbridge and not just highlighting the “sweeteners”. For a consultation to go ahead ALL THE FACTS need to be given. 

Even without a Super Market the leisure building is so large that it would change the appearance of Westbridge Park and the view along our beautiful green corridor forever. 

There is another solution: Keep and enhance the Football pitches at Westbridge and create the changing facilities that are required, build new high quality play facilities on the left hand side of the park and develop the new leisure centre adjacent to Stone Business Park( an area already earmarked for employment land in the Plan for Stafford Borough).  

Relocating the Leisure facility to an extended Stone Business Park would fit the criteria of creating employment. It’s also within walking distance of Walton residents and on a major public transport route from Stone town centre and other surrounding towns. It is also nearer to Westbridge Park than the existing swimming pool at Alleynes High School. 

 By taking the above approach they would Keep Westbridge Park Green, allow Festivals and community events to continue, enhance play facilities and meet all the criteria set out in their Plan for Stafford Borough. 

It could be paid for by using the New Homes bonus that the Borough will receive from the Government for the 800 new homes it has planned for Stone, the princely sum of nearly £7 million. 

I hope that when the consultation takes place that it includes options to develop a leisure centre elsewhere and not just a” have it at Westbridge or not at all” attitude. 

My message to Stafford Borough is “stick it elsewhere”. 


Keep Westbridge Park Green                    

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