£500,000 needed for new gym at former Ashwell prison site

The new enterprise park at the former site of Ashwell Prison

The new enterprise park at the former site of Ashwell Prison

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County council seeks funds from Sport England for new facility on former Ashwell prison site

Half a million pounds could be invested in sports facilities at the new Oakham Enterprise Park if a bid for funding is
successful.

Rutland County Council has applied to Sport England for money to develop a two-hall gymnasium at the enterprise park, a new business estate built on the former Ashwell Prison site.

The council has been granted initial approval and must now submit a detailed application by November in the hope of securing the investment.

The council wants sports clubs and community groups to use the gym, which would not be open to the general public.

Deputy leader Terry King (Con) said: “We are very excited about the potential for sports clubs and organisations once we have remodelled the facilities the prison service left behind. We are pleased to have moved to the next stage of the funding process and will be working closely with Sport England between now and November to put together the best final bid possible.”

The council had previously pledged to provide sports facilities at the site and work is under way to improve the lighting and renovate the changing rooms and toilets of the former prison gym.

This initial work should be finished by the end of the year so that local clubs can start using the building.

If the Sport England bid is successful, the £500,000 would be spent on new equipment, upgrading the flooring, improving access and making the building more energy-efficient.

Vale Judo is among the clubs hoping to move to the site.

Founder Mike Newton said: “The new building would give us much better changing rooms and a larger mat area than we currently have at Pillings Road.”

Rutland County College PE department and Oakham Artistic Gymnastic Academy are also in talks with the council about moving to the enterprise park.

The council hopes other clubs and community groups will come forward to make long-term bookings for the gym, which would open seven days a week.

There are no plans to introduce a pay and play facility for the public.

The council must submit its bid by November and a final decision is expected by the end of the year.