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Councillors defend £32.9m Braywick Leisure Centre plans over congestion concerns

James Harrison

Town hall chiefs have been forced to defend plans for a £32.9m leisure centre following suggestions access to the site could be unsuitable.

The Royal Borough is pressing ahead with the plans for the new facility at Braywick Park to replace the aging Magnet Leisure Centre, in Holmanleaze.

The rebuilt centre would have a 650-seater auditorium, 500-space car park and 200-station gym  — but would apparently require only minor changes to the current road access in and out of the site.

However, in 2012, Braywick Park was rejected as a possible venue for the relocated 300-pupil Oldfield School, now in Bray Road, due to congestion concerns.

According to minutes for a cabinet meeting on May 24, 2012, a move to Braywick Park ‘would require a new road system including a roundabout’.

Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield), cabinet member for planning defended the decision, saying it was based on the best information available at the time.

“We’ve got to listen to the advice that’s given to us and that advice suggests there’s no need for a junction upgrade at this moment in time,” he said.

“But as and when the Borough Local Plan progresses there may well be a need for a junction improvement.”

When artist impressions for the new facility were released last month, residents raises traffic concerns on the Advertiser Facebook page, describing it as 'appalling at the weekends' and 'bad enough as it is'.

According to a strategic site analysis carried out at Braywick Park to go with plans for the new leisure centre, there is already a ‘good level of infrastructure’ and unless a ‘transport assessment recommends to the contrary, the existing park access is to remain in its current state’.

Transport consultants employed on the scheme also claimed their modelling showed ‘the impact of the new leisure centre at Braywick Park on the highway network is negligible’.

Cllr Samantha Rayner (Con, Eton Wick), the current cabinet member for culture and communities, whose brief covers the new leisure centre, said it was ‘difficult for her to comment’ as she was not a councillor in 2012, but that she accepted the current recommendation not to alter access to the site.

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