NEW hope has emerged for community groups threatened with eviction from a sports centre following “positive” consultations.

Clubs at Waltham Abbey Sport Centre, in Broomstick Hall Road, had been threatened with eviction by January next year when the district council's joint agreement with King Harold School ends.

The school, which own the centre, had previously made no assurances on the future of clubs but Epping Forest District Council has now said, following negotiations, the school is hoping to continue the community use of the facility.

Leisure and wellbeing portfolio holder councillor Brian Rolfe said: “Both parties agree that the sports facility and the school should be at the heart of the community and therefore I am pleased that there is a way forward and a positive position has now been found from the situation.”

The council has said it will supply contact details of all bookings at the centre to the school and will offer the assistance of its Community and Cultural Services team to help with sports development.

Precise details are set to be ironed out by councillors.

Rod Butler, leader of the Shotokan Karate Group which uses the sports centre, welcomed the news.

He said: “Obviously we'd be very pleased if that was the case. We've been there a few years and it's got a long history of karate there. We'd like to stay if we can.

“We don't know anything about it- no-one from the school has contacted us. These things always move slowly.”

The council decided not to renew its joint-use agreement with the school as it is planning to build a new £1.7 million sports facility in Roundhills in the summer of 2011 at the swimming pool site.

Cllr Rolfe said: “A decision by council members on whether to add a sports hall extension to Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool is due shortly and if agreed, more sports opportunities will be available in the area than at present.”