Present: Sheila Friend-Smith (chairman), Philip Eden, Will Burton, Peter Hillman, Angela Moody, John Baker, Ted Coney, Heber Martin, Terry Overall, Liz Sayers
Phillip Turner, Principal Leisure and Community Services Officer of East Cambs District Council distributed copies of the proposed design of the new East Cambs leisure centre. Facilities included: ground floor - reception area, six-court sports hall with retractable seating, two squash courts, a multi-purpose room, astro surface, six-lane 25 metre pool, a 'studio' pool with moveable floor (suitable therefore for diving/water aerobics/toddler sessions), splash pool, flumes (one fast, one slow), jacuzzi/spa, 'wet health' area, glass-fronted cafe area, spectator seating; first floor - 100-station fitness suite + free weights area, dance studio with sprung floor, health and beauty rooms, spinning room, admin area, 200-seat spectator area overlooking ground floor sports hall.
Design was intended to be 'environmentally friendly' including a seeded roof and solar panels. The underpass access was of sufficient width and height that it would not be a 'gloomy' access and it was intended to provide a clear view of the building from the 'city' side. The cycle path linked up with the cycle route of Little Downham.
As a result of consultation with highways, the access road was to be widened and the entrance moved further from the roundabout. 158 parking spaces were intended for the leisure centre with an additional 100 spaces for park and ride.
Phillip Turner noted suggestions: Provided an area for a camping site; designate coach parking along exit road to avoid car parking area; need to be as energy self-sufficient as possible.
A general discussion followed. Assuming planning permission were granted, the likelihood of the build going ahead in the current economic climate was questioned. Capital cost likely to be in the region of £12-15m. Questions were also raised about opening costs. Strong feeling that a city centre site would be preferable. A sketch of the leisure facility overlaid on an area including the Paradise site was circulated.
Apologies were received from Ray Tinker, Alan Mittins, Shirley Overall and Suzanne Lindsay.
These were agreed.
The new Perspective stand at Ely Railway Station was proving popular with visitors and had been moved to a more prominent position. Ted Coney was keeping it full of leaflets from local tourist attractions and had also offered local businesses the opportunity to display leaflets/A5 laminated posters
Heber Martin circulated a leaflet he had prepared to explain the background to the Reformation Martyrs' plaque on the wall by the Cathedral Centre. Following minor amendments to the wording, it was agreed these leaflets should be made available at the Tourist Office and information points around the city including the display stand at the Ely Railway Station until such time as a comprehensive guide to the plaques is published.
Terry and Shirley Overall were warmly thanked for all the work they had done on the project. Philip Eden and Bill Burton offered to help with the final administrative work needed to put the remaining plaques into production.
Sheila Friend-Smith suggested that Steeple Row should be the major item on the agenda for the next meeting. Lime trees on Steeple Row and Palace Green were to be trimmed over the coming weeks.
All Fore Hill premises were now occupied and the area was looking much more attractive with a new restaurant, expanded accessories shop and a bead shop. Kiosks in The Cloisters appeared to be busy. A women-only fitness facility had opened over the HSBC bank. The HSBC intended to close its foyer and move cash machines outside to prevent vandalism and overnight sleepers abusing the foyer. An empty shop in The Passage was being refitted.
There had been no response from John Hill, ECDC chief executive, to the Perspective's letter setting out suggestions for Maltings Cottage as an alternative to turning it into a holiday let which had been ECDC's initial idea. The Cottage interior appeared to have been gutted. The Design Group was disappointed and angered that its suggestions had been ignored. It was queried whether ECDC had abused the building's Listed status and whether an application for change of use from residential to commercial had been made.
Ely had achieved a silver gilt award. Shirley Overall had been disappointed that no mention had been made of Ely's conservation or recycling initiatives and felt the judges had overlooked the efforts that had been made by Ely In Bloom volunteers at the railway station garden. Judges appeared to have thought this was a Network Rail project.