1990 Central Leisure Park

By 1990, the Mayflower Centre and its extensions were starting to look time-worn, having been cheaply constructed.  Other sports halls in the city were also at the end of their useful lives.  Two businessmen, Keith White and Bob Widdecombe, who had taken over the insolvent Plymouth Sports Club at Peverell Park in 1986, came forward with proposals for a comprehensive “Central Leisure Park” across the north-west corner of Central Park.  As well as the usual sports facilities, it would have included a multiplex cinema, ten-pin bowling, a supermarket, a drive-through food takeaway and offices to let in order to make the scheme self-financing. 

Plymouth Sports Club’s proposals in 1990 to establish sports facilities across the north west corner of Central Park.

Their proposals were explained in detail in a letter to the Leader of the Council in July 1990, a copy of which is held in The Box under accession reference 2601/14 and a summary was published in the Evening Herald. 

Newspaper article defending the Sports Club’s proposals. Evening Herald 27th July 1990.
(The Box accession reference 2601/14)

There appeared to be a wide measure of support for the proposals, especially from sports clubs and families with children wanting to take part in sports.  However, the loss of green space that would be involved led to the formation of the Central Park Preservation Action Group in addition to the already existing Friends of Central Park. 

No doubt much work carried on behind the scenes to develop the proposals further but they were superseded the following year, 1991, by a Council-led scheme which would have had a smaller footprint although still dependent on commercial leases for its financial viability.