£63million leisure centre plans welcomed - with opposition councillors promising to keep tabs on proposals

Plans to spend almost £63 million on overhauling County Durham’s leisure centres have been greeted with cautious optimism by opposition leaders.

Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 5:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 10:49 am
County Hall, the headquarters of Durham County Council.
County Hall, the headquarters of Durham County Council.

Upgrades are planned at all 15 of the leisure centres run by the council, with the likes of the Durham County Football Association and Durham County Cricket Club also expected to be involved in the scheme.

“Lib Dem councillors have been banging on for years about investment into our leisure facilities,” said Coun Mark Wilkes.

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“I will be analysing what is proposed for Abbey Leisure Centre to make sure that refurbishment work is significant and meets with the needs and aspirations of users.

“If this is not significant or doesn’t provide sufficient improvement we will challenge this and seek all possible ways to improve it further.”

Craig Martin, Lib Dem councillor for Chester-le-Street, said he was ‘delighted’ with the proposals, but also called them ‘long overdue’.

Under the plans, leisure centres at Woodhouse Close, Chester-le-Street and Seaham would all be replaced.

Feasibility studies will have to be completed before decisions are made on the design or location of any new buildings.

The Abbey Leisure Centre and Freeman’s Quay, in Durham and Louisa Centre, in Stanley, can both expect refurbishments and new equipment, as can facilities in Spennymoor and Peterlee.

Centres in Consett, Newton Aycliffe, Wolsingham and Teesdale can look forward to overhauled timetables.

Coun Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Our proposed programme of transformation represents a massive investment in leisure over the coming years and reflects our desire to be at the forefront of changing trends in leisure provision.

“Reviewing our current offer has shown that there are significant opportunities for us to increase participation in physical activity by providing a more vibrant, cost-effective service that better meets customers’ expectations.”

The scheme is due to be discussed at a meeting of the county council’s ruling cabinet on Wednesday, January 15.