Leisure centre in line for �1m upgrade

Major six-month refurbishment to start in October

A �1MILLION refurbishment of North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple is set to start this autumn.

The six-month upgrade programme will begin at the Severn Brethren Bank centre on October 31 and is expected to be complete by April 2012.

It is estimated that the swimming pool will be unavailable for up to six months, with minor disruption to other areas.

The work is being carried out to help maintain the 40-year old building for the future and includes repairs to the roof, the steel and concrete frame of the building, cleaning and repainting the pool tank interiors and a full refurbishment of the wet changing areas.

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North Devon Council has also secured �22,000 from the Amateur Swimming Association for spectator seating and a disabled hoist.

The “mend-and-make-do” measures are being carried out after a 2009 structural survey revealed that a number of key safety improvements were necessary. In January last year, the main swimming pool was forced to close for one weekend following the discovery of a crack in one of the diving boards.

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Executive Member for Culture, Councillor Derrick Spear, said: “Although users of the pool and fitness facilities will experience some disruption, these works are essential and will really improve the look and feel of the building and safeguard it for future use.”

In 2009, councillors reversed a decision to knock down the leisure centre and replace it with a brand new �12.5m facility adjoined to the Tarka Tennis Centre.

At the time, �5million was instead set aside to upgrade the centre but in September last year, the council reduced the commitment to �1m due to the current economic climate.

The council said it would be working closely with Parkwood Leisure to ensure that users of the centre are kept informed of the progress of the refurbishment once it is underway.

Full information regarding closures will be displayed on the council website www.northdevon.gov.uk and in the leisure centre reception area.

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