Fresh calls to build new Crowtree Leisure Centre in the heart of Sunderland

Pleas for a new leisure centre in the heart of Sunderland are to be discussed next week.

Sunday, 16th June 2019, 11:42 pm
The former Crowtree Leisure Centre and its landmark bridge across Crowtree Road.

The city’s Liberal Democrats will be seek backing from other political parties for a replacement for bulldozed Crowtree Leisure Centre.

Their call comes as the ruling Labour group separately revealed that “exciting new leisure developments and more activities and events” could be in store for the city centre.

The site of the much-loved Crowtree, between The Bridges shopping Centre and Keel Square, remains largely empty around six years after the 1970s buildings were demolished.

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Liberal Democrat councillor Niall Hodson.

The Lib Dems believe residents are now crying out for a new leisure centre that is accessible to everyone in Sunderland and which would be vital in attracting more people into the city centre.

Millfield and Thornholme councillor and group leader Councillor Niall Hodson said: "Everyone in Sunderland has fond memories of Crowtree.

“But it’s shameful that kids growing up here now don’t have similar facilities, whether its a big leisure pool and slide, an ice rink, sports facilities or soft play.

“It is also disgraceful that years after Crowtree was closed against the will of local people, the site is still a grassy wasteland leaving a gaping hole in our city centre.

“That’s why Liberal Democrats want Sunderland Council to open a new Crowtree-style leisure centre in the heart of the city centre, either on the old Crowtree site, as part of the Vaux redevelopment or in one of the other prime regeneration sites in the town.

“Not only would it be fantastic for getting more people taking part in physical activity, a new Crowtree Leisure Centre would be a huge pull factor bringing more people into the city centre and having a positive impact on shops, services and our local economy which is much needed in Sunderland.”

Crowtree’s modern facilities initially attracted national league basketball and ice hockey to the city.

After announcing the declining centre’s closure and demolition in 2013, Sunderland City Council said that “what we are doing to preparing the way for private sector investment in the city centre”.

Coun Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said that plans were “taking shape” for a number of new leisure facilities in the heart of the city.

He revealed talks were ongoing with a range of investors who had been attracted to the city by the “scale and impact of work committed by the council and other private investors”.

Coun Miller added: “Increased leisure and activation of the city centre has been a priority for us for some time and we have been working hard in the background to bring about a step change in the area.

“We are working on permanent enhancements to Sunderland from a leisure point of view and there are some exciting plans in the pipeline.”

The Lib Dem bid will be discussed at a full meeting of Sunderland City Council on Wednesday, June 19.