Is blowing final whistle on sports centre selling off ‘family jewels’?

PLANS to hand over the Peter Paine Sports Centre to Boston College were given another seal of approval last week as councillors on the town’s planning board consented to a change of use for the facility.

The college, which recently signed a 99-year lease for the Rosebery Avenue centre, asked the borough to approve it for mixed use, including assembly and leisure and non-residential institutions, so the college can use it to support courses while still allowing it to be used as a community facility.

A majority of councillors approved the move without comment, but several raised objections to the matter last Tuesday.

Coun Brain Rush said: “We have a duty to look after and safeguard the town, and it seems to me that this is selling off the family jewels.

“When we are looking at this we have to be mindful of what we are doing.”

Fellow planning board member Coun Ossy Snell added he was concerned that the college may later decide to sell the land off or redevelop it as an educational facility if it did not prove to be as lucrative as bosses hoped, but both were told these were not material in this instance.

No planning applications have been submitted near to the site.

Other members said they could not see how approving the application could negatively impact on the people of Boston, as the centre is little-used at the moment.

Coun Alison Austin said: “It is still being left for recreational use and that is the main purpose of this hall. It will still be used for exercise and give the community a much greater use of this.

“I only see this as being of benefit.”

The college signed a lease for the centre at the beginning of July and assured members of the public that it would still be open for community use and current arrangements for the Boston & District Football League would remain in place.

The move will also give the centre more access to grants and funds in the future.