£33m Epping leisure centre development on track

The development of a £33 million leisure centre in Epping is on track to allow the complex to open in 2025, councillors say.

Plans for the new Epping Leisure Centre were first approved by Epping Forest District Council in October 2021, as one of five sites Qualis Commercial was granted planning permission for across the district.

At a meeting on July 25, Councillor Andy Green (Con. Broadley Common, Epping Upland and Nazeing) asked for an update on the progress of the project, and whether its projected 2025 delivery still remained likely.

Council leader Chris Whitbread (Con. Roydon) confirmed that the development was progressing as hoped, and confirmed that the 330 space multi-storey car park in Bakers Lane which has been under construction since October 2022 will be open for public use from the middle of September.

Councillor John Philip (Con. Theydon Bois) clarified that the Bakers Lane car park would unlock the leisure centre site ahead of construction beginning, and would allow residents to “get used” to the new developments in that location.

He said: “I can’t wait for there to be a swimming pool in Epping.”

As well as the six-lane pool, the complex will include a fitness suite, gym and two squash courts, a sports hall and a number of studios.

However, the project also comes with a hefty price tag of £33.1 million – £8 million more than the original November 2020 estimate.

The existing Epping Sports Centre in Hemnall Street, which was built in 1970, was described as “reaching the end of its designed life” by Qualis Commercial.

In a council meeting on March 13 when the project was last discussed, Cllr Philip stressed that the cost of the new complex was necessary in order to avoid an unwise investment into the current sports centre.

He said: “That’s effectively throwing good money away after bad, because it’s not going to make it into a good sports centre.”

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Emma Doyle

Local Democracy Reporter