Council gives go-ahead for plans to progress on new Barnstaple leisure centre

North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple needs replacing or repairing. Picture: Andy Keeble

North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple needs replacing or repairing. Picture: Andy Keeble - Credit: Archant

Knock it down and build a new one next to the Tarka Tennis Centre, agree members.

Council officer Mark Kentell and Cllr Dick Jones outside the 'ailing' North Devon Leisure Centre.

Council officer Mark Kentell and Cllr Dick Jones outside the 'ailing' North Devon Leisure Centre. - Credit: Archant

Plans to build a new leisure centre in Barnstaple have been described as a ‘vision for the future’.

At a meeting of North Devon Council’s Executive yesterday (Tuesday), members voted unanimously in favour of building a brand new leisure centre adjacent to the Tarka Tennis Centre site at Seven Bretheren – rather than renovating the existing building, a plan revealed by the Gazette earlier this year.

The discussion proved a short one – with Councillor Rodney Cann moving approval straight away.

“I regard this as a vision for the future and a demonstration of our confidence in North Devon,” he said.

Leaks have caused stalactites to form in parts of the North Devon Leisure Centre building.

Leaks have caused stalactites to form in parts of the North Devon Leisure Centre building. - Credit: Archant

“I think it’s an enormous asset and the project should be shovel ready.”


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Extending the Tarka Tennis Centre to include a new 25-metre pool, learning pool and fitness suite will cost between £5million and £7.5m.

Funding needed

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Funding would come from various sources, including Sport England, Section 106 contributions from developers, and from the future sale of land at Seven Brethren.

The new centre whould be built by 2020.

Despite having already undergone significant repairs in 2012, the current leisure centre will require more than £3m in repairs to keep it running for the next 10 years. The age and condition of the building also mean that annual running costs are going to increase dramatically over the coming years.

Councillor Dick Jones, health and wellbeing portfolio holder, said: “Rather than spend millions repairing our ageing leisure centre, it makes financial sense in the long run to build a brand new pool, with lower running costs, and to sell the land on which the current leisure centre sits at Seven Brethren.

Vital project

“Living by the coast it is essential that our youngsters know how to swim and are confident in the water, so having a pool in our biggest town is vital. We will do everything we can to get the funding we need to make this project succeed.

“It’s unthinkable that North Devon doesn’t have a pool. It is vital to North Devon and its economy.

“We need this to progress as soon as possible.”

The next stage of the project will be to investigate funding options. If the council is successful in its bids for funding and obtains planning consent, construction could begin in 2018 and be complete by 2020.

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