District’s two oldest leisure facilities to close
Ref: PR 8453
Knottingley Sports Centre and Castleford Swimming Pool will close on Friday 3 February, as work gets underway to design the £14.8m leisure and well-being centre in Pontefract Park.
The two leisure facilities are the oldest of all the Council's leisure properties. Knottingley Sports Centre was built in 1969 and Castleford Pool in 1983. An external report published in 2014 said they were in a 'severely defective condition; beyond the end of their useful life and expensive to maintain'. It costs over £750k every year just to keep Knottingley Sports Centre and Castleford Pool open in their current, dilapidated state.
Knottingley and Castleford will now receive a £1m capital funding boost to be used to support regeneration needs in these areas.
Cllr Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport said: "We fully understand that there will be some disappointment about the closures. Ideally, we would have liked to keep all the existing facilities open until the new leisure centre is built. However, this is now impossible because of the relentless cuts to our budget.
"The Government has wiped over £146m off the budget already and another £24m will be found in 2017/18. With no end in sight to the Government cuts, we are having to make very difficult decisions, like this.
"However, we remain fully committed to Knottingley and Castleford, which is why we are investing an additional £1m capital funding across both towns to support their regeneration, and will be working with community groups to identify what is needed."
Today's decision comes after Wakefield Council carried out a thorough review of the feedback from the public consultation. The eight-week consultation was launched to give residents the opportunity to share their views, and over 800 people took part.
Cllr Les Shaw said: "We have spent considerable time analysing the feedback and have used it to challenge and test out the proposals we put forward. People's comments and views are now an integral part of the project and as we progress to the next stage we will make sure our design and planning processes address the challenges that have been raised.
"The Council remains confident that the new multi-purpose leisure and well-being centre will not only meet the current needs of the Five Towns but also its future needs.
"We are now seizing this opportunity to get the very best leisure facilities and create something that will help the Five Towns have a new, healthier future. This is an exciting time as we drive forward with the plans, which will make the flagship facility a reality."
The consultation raised a number of concerns about the look, feel, accessibility and environmental impact of the new facility. Wakefield Council will now share these with the design team to ensure they are taken into account at the earliest opportunity, as well as being addressed as part of the planning process.
Some of those who shared their views were concerned about the impact of the leisure centre closures. Over the last two months, Wakefield Council has been working with clubs and groups from Knottingley Sports Centre and Castleford Swimming Pool to successfully accommodate them at the Council's other leisure facilities.
The majority of schools who hold lessons at Knottingley and Castleford have taken up the offer of alternative arrangements. Every club and group have now accepted an alternative session at one of the Council's other facilities. New timetables have been produced and are available at all leisure centres and on the website.
All the Exercise on Referral sessions have been relocated and the Council is working with those affected.
The new £14.8million multi-purpose leisure and well-being centre based in Pontefract Park will include a 10-lane swimming pool, studio pool with moveable floor, and a splash pad water confidence area. The centre will also offer a gym, exercise studios, a two-court sports hall, a 'clip and climb' activity, café and soft play area as well as meeting rooms for community use and referral rooms for exercise and weight management support. Outside there will be tennis courts, an activity and exercise space, five-a-side 3G (synthetic grass) pitches and car parking.
The new facility will replace Knottingley Sports Centre and Castleford Swimming Pool, and Pontefract Pool, which will eventually close.
Wakefield Council will now start the design process for the new leisure and well-being centre in Pontefract Park. After this work has been completed, the Council will start to put together a planning application.