After listening to the views of the local community and their desire to retain the existing leisure centre building for future generations, the Leader of South Kesteven District Council, Councillor Kelham Cooke, put forward revised recommendations to the Extraordinary Council Meeting.
The revised recommendations came after a new initial assessment made by Paul Weston Architects and Chartered Quantity Surveyors Caston Cost Consultants estimated an investment of £6.3million could not only bring the building back into safe operation but could improve the facility and secure a good standard of leisure provision for the next 25 years.
Leader of South Kesteven District Council, Councillor Kelham Cooke, said: "The Deepings Leisure Centre is an important asset at the heart of the local community.
"After listening to the many heartfelt stories and concerns from local people since the Cabinet was asked to review the building condition report, it is apparent this building means far too much to the community to allow it to close without exploring every possible option.
"Patching up the building was simply not a viable or sensible option, so we commissioned a further expert assessment to consider whether further investment could not only fix the immediate health and safety concerns and save the building from closure, but also provide substantial improvements for the local community and significantly extend the building's life.
"I am hopeful that the further investigations can deliver the best possible outcome - securing a good and improved leisure centre in the Deepings for many years to come, as quickly as possible, and retaining the building that means so much to the community."
The Council vote confirms that:
- The Deepings Leisure Centre will remain closed due to the known health and safety risks.
- A full structural survey will be completed, and refurbishment options brought forward for Deepings Leisure Centre in order to assess the level of work necessary to remedy the health and safety issues, and further extend the operational life of the current Leisure Centre.
- The Council will enter into negotiations with Lincolnshire County Council and The Anthem Trust in order to secure a viable operational lease of Deepings Leisure Centre.
- The Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and the Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee will consider a further report on the options for the refurbishment of Deeping Leisure Centre, together with the associated costs, and recommend to Cabinet the optimum way forward.
- The reports to Overview Scrutiny Committees should include costed proposals and business plans for the potential site (s) for a new Leisure Centre in the Deepings
- A report will be provided to Cabinet which includes the recommendations from the joint meeting of the Culture and Visitor Economy and Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committees, together with an update on the discussions to secure a leasehold interest in Deepings Leisure Centre, before making a recommendation to Council.
While the final decision on the investment has not yet been made, the vote will offer hope to the community and clubs that use the facility.
If the investment is finally approved the leisure centre will, however, need to remain closed for approximately 12 months while the necessary investigations and works are procured and completed.
Opportunities will continue to be explored to redeploy LeisureSK staff during this time.
Lincolnshire County Council has confirmed that the Deepings School will also be supported to ensure they have a suitable venue for exams and PE lessons in the short term.
Work will also continue to ensure outdoor leisure activities on Linchfield Road Playing Fields continues while the leisure centre building is closed.
The centre had been forced to remain closed due to serious health and safety concerns since 27th July where the rapid deterioration of the building was highlighted after heavy rainfall caused significant damage to the roof, widespread water ingress throughout the building, and lights in the pool hall were affected.
An initial building condition survey estimated more than £1.2million worth of remedial work would be required just to bring the centre back into safe operation. This included a complete replacement of the roof structure as well as replacing the original oil boilers, one of which was already beyond repair.