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People power saves day for ‘green oasis’
PEOPLE power has saved the day after plans to build a new lifestyle centre on a ‘green oasis’ were scrapped by the council.
A packed meeting of around 200 residents broke out into rapturous applause after Cheshire East Council (CEC) abandoned proposals to build a new £12 million lifestyle centre around the Cumberland Arena athletics site in Thomas Street.
The hour-long debate at St Peter’s Church concluded with council leader Michael Jones announcing that Crewe Lifestyle Centre would not be built on the site known locally as the Razzer.
The gathering, organised by the town council, heard how planning permission had not yet been sought for the centre – which will feature a 25m eight-lane swimming pool, large learner pool and state-of-the-art facilities for older and vulnerable people – and that the purpose of the meeting was to hear both public and council concerns.
Several residents spoke out against the proposals, which CEC say aim to tackle the town’s health and wellbeing problems, and said the site was unsuitable because of flooding and traffic congestion.
After speaking to his officers, Clr Michael Jones said: “I have listened and I am better informed for listening to your local knowledge.
“I am not saying to you that this will not happen at this site but I remain determined to deliver my vision of first class facilities for the people of Crewe.
“This truly is democracy in action and at no point was this a done deal. We are a listening council and, where there are real risks to the quality of people’s lives, we will listen and, if necessary, take action.”
While local Labour councillors welcomed plans for the 25 metre pool, many questioned the pool’s location and feared what the new centre would mean for the future of Crewe’s historic Art Deco baths in Flag Lane.
Crewe East Clr Chris Thorley was just one of those against the plans and told the Guardian he is absolutely ‘delighted’ with the decision.
He said: “The traffic hazards were so great that they would have made the lives of the people living round there a total nightmare.
“At present it is a lovely green field site which many of us have used and run around it. It should be left as a green oasis.”
Clr Thorley said that people were not objecting to the lifestyle centre in principle, but the location.
He added: “The £12m they want to put on this new lifestyle centre they could be used to improve our outstanding historic baths in Crewe and bring it up to a high standard.
“I am absolutely delighted that the plans have been withdrawn.”
CEC will now consider alternative town centre sites and has promised to continue to consult with local people.
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