Sunderland’s flagship leisure complex is to shut for up to nine months while its damaged roof is repaired - as council chiefs take legal action over the matter.
The Aquatic Centre opened less than nine years ago at a cost of £20million - but is now in need of “substantial” repair work.
It is the only Olympic-sized pool between Leeds and Edinburgh and is used as a training facility by Paralympic gold medalists Matt Wylie and Josef Craig.
It is described by management on its website as “the finest swimming and diving pool in the North East.”
Sunderland City Council has said it has “issued legal proceedings in respect of the remedial works that are now required to be undertaken” with problems being caused by condensation and leaks.
Visitors to the Stadium Park centre say they have seen buckets placed on the upper walkway around the pool to catch dripping water.
Much as we don’t want to close the pool element of the Aquatic Centre for any length of time it is essential that this happens at some point in 2018 to allow the structural repairs that are needed to go ahead.Councillor Mel Speding
The building was designed to be the most environmentally friendly 50m pool in the country, with all the rain falling on its roof collected, filtered and recycled for use in the pool.
The closure, which could be between six and nine months, will take place next year and allow the repairs to be carried out over the pool, while ‘dry-side’ facilities, such as the gym and changing area, will remain open.
Sunderland City Council said in a statement: “The City Council is looking to close Sunderland Aquatic Centre next year, 2018, to allow substantial repairs and remedial work to be carried out to the roof of the swimming pool area.
“These works are required to remedy problems with condensation and leaks. To allow for the necessary arrangements to be put in place the works will be carried out next year and it is estimated they will take 6-9 months to complete.
“During the period of the works it is anticipated some dry-side facilities will remain in use such as the gym and changing areas.
“In parallel, the Council has issued legal proceedings in respect of the remedial works that are now required to be undertaken.”
The council’s cabinet secretary, Coun Mel Speding, said: “Much as we don’t want to close the pool element of the Aquatic Centre for any length of time it is essential that this happens at some point in 2018 to allow the structural repairs that are needed to go ahead.
“We very much recognise that Sunderland Aquatic Centre is not only an asset for the city but for the region as a whole which is why we have agreed to commission this remedial work so we can get the pool back up and running as soon as possible.
“There’s never going to be a good time to carry out this kind of work but we will be working with our partners Everyone Active, who manage the city’s sports and leisure facilities on our behalf, to minimise the impact on users as much as much as we possibly can.”
The centre is home to City of Sunderland Amateur Swimming Club.
The venue and other council leisure centres across the city are managed by Everyone Active.
It was chosen as a pre-games training camp for the London 2012 Olympics, along with Sunderland University.
Aquatic Centre users will be able to use the pools at Hetton, Silksworth, Washington and the Raich Carter Centre and other Everyone Active facilities across the city during the centre’s closure.