Interior of Grangemouth Sports Complex gym

Inside Grangemouth Sports Complex

A state-of-the-art £35m sport and leisure facility could be built in central Falkirk in the next five years if Councillors agree a new strategy report at next week's Executive meeting.

The radical new strategy would see the major venue act as a 'leisure hub’ for Falkirk Council. A significant new facility for Grangemouth of between £10-20m would join a range of modern sports facilities in Bo’ness, Braes, Denny, and Stenhousemuir acting as ‘spokes’ to improve provision for communities.

A cross-party group of Councillors have been working on proposals for more than six months as part of a Sport and Leisure Policy Development Panel (PDP), supported by officers.

Their proposals would see every effort made to keep both the Mariner Centre and Grangemouth Sports Complex open until the new facilities were up and running.

The proposals would modernise sport and leisure provision, addressing the current challenges posed by ageing and deteriorating existing facilities, as well as creating sustainable and accessible facilities that meet the diverse needs of local communities.

In the report being considered on 11 June, the financial strain of maintaining the Council’s current outdated sports and leisure facilities is made clear, with current operations running at a deficit that has grown from £2.57m in 2017/18 to £4.7m per annum in 2022/23. This deficit is likely to grow as facilities further deteriorate at a time when the council’s budget is already under immense strain.

It is estimated the high-quality new facility could operate at zero cost or even turn a profit, compared to the current Mariner Centre and Grangemouth Sports Complex which cost c£2 million annually. This saving could help pay for the borrowing to build the new facility.

Significant Demand

Research undertaken by external consultants also highlights "significant demand" for such modern, accessible sports and leisure facilities and that communities within the council area face “higher health challenges”. The proposed investment would help meet demand and provide equitable access that would benefit currently underserved populations and promote active lifestyles.

Extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including elected members and external advisors has informed the report. The PDP Councillors also visited a range of facilities in neighbouring Councils to see best practice in action. Future consultations would ensure detailed plans are aligned with community needs and expectations.

If the ‘hub and spoke’ model is agreed, council officers would bring further reports back to councillors for consideration on the potential location of the central hub and new Grangemouth facility, while the Sport & Leisure Provision for Communities report, also being considered at the Executive on 11 June highlights proposals for facilities in Bo’ness, Braes and Denny as part of the council’s Strategic Property Review.

Malcolm Bennie, Falkirk Council’s Director of Place Services said: “Elected Members of the PDP have proposed a bold new approach to provide top-tier sport and leisure facilities for our communities across the Falkirk area.

“This exciting transition to modern, accessible and energy-efficient facilities could support healthier lifestyles and foster stronger community connections. This clear overhaul of the existing approach could set Falkirk Council on the right road for the delivery of these services for the next 15-20 years.

“This ambitious plan aligns with the Council Plan priorities of fostering a thriving local economy, promoting environmental sustainability, and enhancing community wellbeing. It is now up to the Elected Members on the Executive to decide if they support the proposals of their colleagues.”

Read the full report online.