29 March 2022 Meeting


Minutes of Welwyn Hatfield Sports facilities operations group meeting on 29 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Please see the attendance and apologies list.


1.     Introductions

The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and brief introductions were made.


2.     Agree minutes from previous meeting

The minutes from the September 2021 meeting were agreed as a true record by the group.

The following actions have been met:

Action 3 - the proposed changes document has been added to the WHBC website.

Action 6 - Milan shared the secured section 106 funds table with the group.


3.     Proposed request for changes to the Strategy and Action Plan

No proposed changes were received.  


4.     Update on the Gosling Master plan

The written update will be circulated to all members of the group with the minutes.

Ka Ng confirmed that the grounds investigation works are underway, but progress is slow.

Roy Warren asked for confirmation that all NGBs will have an opportunity to comment on the plans as they are developed.  KN/MJ confirmed they would have.

Action: Milan to send all members of the group the written update for the Gosling master plan.


5.     Update on the local plan

The Council has rejected the housing targets that the Planning Inspector asked for, there is a possible option to have a ten year plan, which would mean less housing required.

However, the Planning Team need to finalise completions prior to setting this number and this information won't be available until the 31 March.

If the Planning Inspector agrees to this approach, the formal meetings that will need to consider and approve the revised plan will be in June and July.

Adrian Ledbury questioned why the Local Plan has been rejected?

Christopher Dale confirmed that this was a political decision. Concern that level of housing was not realistic and given borough constraints the level of growth proposed is not reasonable.

Inspector wanted 15,200 homes over 20 years; council proposed 13,279

Sian Chambers questioned what the implications are if the Local Plan is not adopted and Chris Dale confirmed that the Council can develop local documentation, but would not have as much weight as an adopted LP. As we cannot have Supplementary Planning Documents, such as those setting out the requirements on leisure facilities without an adopted LP.

Adrian Ledbury asked how are the proposed houses distributed, and Chris Dale explained that they are proposed proportionately across the borough and there are key sites in the two main towns.

Action - Milan to send a link to the Local Plan documents on the council's website with minutes.

Action - If the Local Plan is not adopted, consider how the group can mitigate the risk to delivery of the Action Plan (will discuss again in September).


6.     Update on the Herts Aquatics 50m pool project

Milan provided a written update received from Herts Aquatics on the progress of the project.

Herts Aquatics are still in discussions with Oakland's college, and are working with them on a Business Case, feasibility documents and a needs assessment to prove the viability of the project.

They have finalised their concept drawings and are looking at a 6,300 square metre build.

They have also had discussions with British Swimming who have expressed interest in the facility.

They have a baseline build cost based on a brick build but are looking to reduce this by exploring other options for the physical build - having said that, the cost is well within what they believe they could potentially raise based on projected income.

They have also spoken to Roy Warren and are engaging Sport England via their architects.

Matt Rayner mentioned that the strategy identifies that swimming space is needed in WGC, what is the impact of the proposal?

Milan Johnston has spoken to GLL, UoH and Herts Aquatics about the implications. Herts aquatics want the venue as a competitive club space.

David Connell asked whether Sport England support the proposal.

Roy Warren confirmed that SE take a partial, objective approach; Herts Aquatics would need strong evidence to support it; they would need a needs analysis, feasibility study and business case. Sport England would also consider the potential impact on existing provision; SE would not usually fund this type of project. 95% swimming need within St Albans is currently met.

Matt Perren mentioned that build and utility costs have increased significantly, which could impact on the viability of their proposal.

Ryan Davies mentioned that Swim England's initial view was that it is difficult to see a strategic need for this; they can provide technical advice, but not funding.

Action - MJ to set up a small working group to discuss in more detail; include St Albans council; any volunteers for this group contact Milan.


7.     Update on the priority action plan

Milan thanked members who sent through their updates, and gave an update on the actions.


8.     Update on section 106 funds

Milan updated the group on the section 106 funds that have been secured and are available, this information will be circulated with the minutes.


9.     Partner updates

Roy Warren confirmed that there is not much to update around funding, but Sport England are looking to create a single point of entry for funding.

Adrian Ledbury confirmed that the new Herts Sports Partnership strategy is going to be published in April, and there environmental sustainability commitment has been signed off, so there will be a focus around active environments.

Simon Dowdy mentioned that England Hockey are currently updating their sports strategy (2022 - 2026) and will circulate.

Dominic Chatfield said that the ECB are also updating their county facilities strategy.