A meeting of key members of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council on 5th December decided that the town’s Angel Leisure Centre no longer meets modern standards and it needs to be demolished.
New leisure facilities will be built for residents, but no decision has been made on where that’ll be.
The Angel centre was only built in 1981.
Up to then much of the site was open space. It was used for Kent cricket matches until the Second World War, and then by the Tonbridge Angels soccer team, before they were relocated to the north of the town.
The leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, the Conservative Matt Boughton (below), said the decision to demolish the Angel Centre was made by the six councillors who make up the cabinet that runs the Borough council.
Matt Boughton said he wanted “to keep all options on the table” regarding the future location and nature of the new facilities.
Unlike most of the council’s leisure buildings, the Angel Centre currently makes a loss.
Matt Boughton says the Angel Centre also has very high energy bills and carbon emissions and the council has to focus on its policies to combat climate change. The Conservatives have pledged to deliver carbon neutral leisure centres by 2027.
There’s concern from some Tonbridge residents that a replacement for the Angel Centre could be built on the area currently used by the popular Tonbridge Miniature Railway (shown below).
The miniature railway site is next to Tonbridge swimming pool. It was favoured earlier this year in a statement from the Tonbridge and Malling Leisure Trust who operate the council’s facilities under contract. That’s despite the fact that the area often floods.
An online petition has been started by people concerned at the possible loss of the miniature railway. Around two thousand people have already signed the petition, pointing out that the community asset has fostered a love for model railways and engineering among generations.
But Tonbridge and Malling Council leader Matt Boughton says he’s disappointed by the petition as the council, which owns the site, has no plans to use the miniature railway site for a new leisure building.
He said: “We all enjoy the model engineering society running the miniature railway. Many of us use it. We obviously want to make sure that it thrives. It is something that helps make Tonbridge the town that it is. So I can’t envisage a situation where the council would decide to use the railway site for leisure facilities at all.”
You can hear more of Matt Boughton’s comments on the West Kent Radio News Feature on Monday 11th December at 7.30am, repeated at 8.30am and at 12.30, 1.30, 4.30 and 6.30pm.
You can listen to West Kent Radio online, on smart speakers or on 95.5, 106.7 and 107.2 FM. The station now broadcasts from studios in Southborough.
The rest of the coming week’s News Features are about:
TUESDAY: Victory for the “Save Capel” campaign
WEDNESDAY: Tonbridge churches continue Ukraine relief effort
THURSDAY: Tudor Christmas at Ightham Mote