Pontefract Park to be home to district’s flagship, £14.8m leisure centre
The district’s biggest ever, state-of-the-art, multi-purpose leisure and wellbeing centre will be built, in Pontefract Park - if the proposals get the green light from senior councillors.
On Tuesday 27 September, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet will discuss the findings from an independent feasibility study, carried out over the last six months. The purpose of the study was to identify what type of facility is needed to serve the Five Towns and where it could be built, so that the existing, outdated leisure provision in Castleford, Knottingley and Pontefract could be replaced.
The report being put to Cabinet outlines plans for a £14.8m complex in Pontefract Park. It would include a 10 lane swimming pool, studio pool with moveable floor, and a splash pad water confidence area. The centre would 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 would be tennis courts, an activity and exercise space, five-a-side 3G (synthetic grass) pitches and car parking.
Cllr Les Shaw, Cabinet Member of Culture, Leisure and Sport said: “It is unprecedented in the Five Towns area to have a facility like this, so I believe we must seize this unique, and exciting opportunity to create a new future for the health and wellbeing of the Five Towns.
“We want to provide something that meets people’s needs now and going forward, that gives our residents the first class facilities they deserve. These proposals will deliver on this, giving people the chance to access sport, recreational, social and wellbeing activities which will help them live healthier lives.
“If it gets the go-ahead the new, Pontefract Park leisure and wellbeing centre will be the district’s flagship facility.”
Cabinet is also being asked to approve the start of a consultation on the plans and on the closure of Castleford and Knottingley’s current leisure buildings in January 2017. It is proposed that Pontefract Pool would remain open until around the time the new centre was built.
The three existing leisure facilities in the Five Towns are the oldest of all the Council’s leisure properties. Knottingley Sports Centre was built in 1969, Castleford Pool in 1983 and Pontefract Pool in 1985. An external report published in 2014 said that they are beyond the end of their useful life, and are expensive to maintain. It highlighted that they cannot provide the services to meet the current demand, as leisure needs have changed so significantly in the last 30 years.
Cllr Shaw explained: “Wakefield Council spends over £750k every year subsidising Knottingley Sports Centre and Castleford Pool. We simply cannot continue to do this.
“Ideally, we would have liked to keep all the existing facilities open until the new leisure centre is built. However, this is just not possible. Over £146m has already been wiped off our budget and there are more Government cuts to come. We are not prepared to jeopardise future investment in something as important to the Five Towns as this new leisure centre, so tough decisions need to be taken.
“I understand that this will be disruptive for some people and we will do all we practically can to minimise the impact. This is why we are proposing to keep Pontefract Pool open until the facility is built.
“We are also keen to continue talking to Kellingley Miners Welfare Club to see if we can help them enhance their existing leisure activities, along with talking to local members and interested groups to explore the potential for the facility to be run by a voluntary or community group.”
If Cabinet approve the recommendations in the report, a public consultation will be launched to give people the opportunity to comment on the proposals.