Clock ticking to save Deepings Leisure Centre - or it faces demolition
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Lincolnshire County Council is hoping to find a third party to takeover the closed Deepings Leisure Centre within the next year – or it is likely to be knocked down.
Council leaders are eager to see a decision on the site by the summer term of 2024 – around April – though have acknowledged that timelines could change.
They recently gave the go-ahead to allow a third-party takeover of the site, which has been closed since 2021 due to health and safety concerns.
A community group is hoping to put in their own bid by September.
However, if a new owner doesn’t materialise, the leisure centre faces demolition.
South Kesteven District Council had previously abandoned a £10million renovation plan for the centre in November 2022, passing the site back to Lincolnshire County Council.
Councillor Phil Dilks told LCC’s Overview and Scrutiny Management meeting on Thursday: “It would be an act of vandalism to demolish the building, particularly at the cost of this council, without exploring all viable possibilities to actually give it a life.”
SKDC Councillor Virginia Moran, chairman of the Deepings Leisure Centre Community Group, expressed the community’s relief that demolition was deemed a last resort.
“The effects on the local community have been real and brutal,” she said.
Councillor Ashley Baxter, whose own daughter swims regularly, said: “We know that there’s a health crisis across the country, and swimming pools and leisure centres are a way to address it.”
It was suggested by Councillor Hugo Marfleet that nine months would be ample time for interested parties to decide their course of action.
“It’s been going on quite long enough so those who are interested should have an idea of what they would like to do,” he said.
However, Executive Councillor Richard Butroid indicated that the end date might be longer due to legal and technical processes.
Council leader Councillor Martin Hill noted that the Department for Education can take a long time to come to an agreement.
However, he said that “if all else fails”, he saw demolition taking place in the summer term of 2024.
Following the meeting, Ashley Baxter and Virginia Moran expressed their delight that the situation is moving forward.
Moran revealed that a bid would be made by September, saying: “We don’t have a CEO to pay, we don’t have shareholders that we have to keep happy.
“We’ve got a strong emphasis on providing facilities for the less able, whether it’s physically or mentally.”
The council’s decision doesn’t necessarily mean that the Deepings Community Group will be running the centre.
The council’s decision marks a significant step towards resolving the issue of the Deepings Leisure Centre, bringing hope to the local community.
The decision will now go before the Lincolnshire County Council Executive for further consideration.