Plans approved to replace Seaham Leisure Centre with new facility in St John’s Square
Multi-million pound plans to replace ‘ageing and outdated’ leisure centres, including in Seaham, have been given the green light.
Expected costs for the Durham County Council scheme, which also includes Chester-le-Street and Bishop Auckland leisure centres and improvements to other sites across the county, have ballooned from £62.8 million to £78 million since they were first put forward last year.
But bosses have also promised there will be no disruption to existing users between construction starting and the new facilities opening.
“In 2020 we approved the principles of an ambitious plan to transform our leisure centres, including three new centres to replace ageing and outdated facilities,” said Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council.
“The world has changed immeasurably since then.
“The proposals will see all of the existing sites remain open during the build period, so there will be no loss of facilities during construction.
“The selection of sites is the first step in a more detailed site appraisal and we’re confident the issues you might expect from a project of this size will be issues we can mitigate.”
Cllr Marshall was speaking at this morning’s (Wednesday, March 17) meeting of the county council’s ruling cabinet, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
In Seaham plans have been put forward for a ‘dual site’ scheme.
This would see a new leisure centre built at St John’s Square, while the current Seaham Leisure Centre, in Deneside, would be converted to outdoor sports facilities.
Cllr Marshall added this would also bring a ‘much anticipated swimming pool to the town’.
A report for councillors laid bare the postcode lottery of leisure centres in County Durham.
Families in Durham City are able to use the 2008-built Freemans Quay, while Bishop Auckland makes do with the Woodhouse Close Leisure Centre – now more than 50 years old.
The trio of centres earmarked to be replaced form the key plank of the council’s flagship policy.
In Chester-le-Street, the town’s former civic centre site has been earmarked as the location for its own rebuilt leisure centre, with the promise of further development at the Riverside on top of this.
Bishop Auckland is expected to see Woodhouse Close redeveloped, with leisure facilities moved to a new site in Tindale Crescent.