Council set to give land worth Â£3.6million to badminton centre
The National Badminton Centre is to be given another wining shot at becoming a world class venue, the Citizen can reveal.
Milton Keynes Council, despite its cash-strapped state, is set to hand the centre a chunk of land worth £3.6 million without asking for a penny in return.
The land surrounds the centre’s existing base at Loughton Lodge and would be suitable for a lucrative housing development.
A report due to be approved by councillors next week suggests Badminton England markets the land itself.
The profits could then be ploughed in developing a new world class badminton facility on site.
Badminton England, which currently has eight courts at Loughton, has declined to comment on the council’s offer until after the meeting takes place.
Last year it was forced to scrap plans for a new £22million centre at the National bowl due to a “funding gap”.
The council had again agreed to help out by donating land for housing, which would part-finance the project.
Adrian Christy, chief executive of Badminton England, said at the time he was “incredibly disappointed” at having to pull out.
“As much as we wanted this project to work, the responsibility to protect the financial health of Badminton England has overridden the opportunies that we saw this project delivering,” he said.
The new plan gives Badminton England a fresh chance – though the path may not be straightforward.
The Parks Trust is still the leasholder of some of the land at Loughton, and would have to agree any scheme.
Also the council has made it clear that Badminton England must procure and organise all building works itself.
Councillors fear Badminton England will up sticks and move to another part of the country unless there is an incentive to stay in MK.
“This is an opportunityto have world class sport in Milton Keynes and we cannot afford to lose it,” said council leader Pete Marland.
“We are effectively exchanging the value of some land for the honour of hosting an international sporting facility,” he added.
It would be the council’s ambition to see the new badminton centre up and running in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2018.