December 14, 2021 3.18 pm This story is over 30 months old

South Kesteven council votes for £10.7m Deepings Leisure Centre refurb

Opposition says residents let down by broken promises of new facility

Plans for a £10.7million refurbishment of the Deepings Leisure Centre have been approved by a meeting of South Kesteven District’s full council.

An extraordinary meeting was held at the Mere’s Leisure Centre today where councillors voted in favour of four recommendations in support of a full refurbishment for the centre costing £10.663 million, along with a meaningful consultation and a full spending review.

The proposals will see a full remodelling and refurbishment including reconfiguration of the main pool, a new health and fitness gym, two new studios, a changing village, modification of the entrance area and refurb of the sports hall.

Councillor Barry Dobson, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, told councillors: “This will be a significant investment for this Council, and as a result it will be necessary for us to review our spending priorities in order to make provision for the impact of the borrowing in the Medium-Term Financial Plan.

“Of course, no investment will be possible without the council gaining a legal interest in the existing building and I am pleased to report that good progress has been made in this regard.”

Several councillors spoke in favour, with Independent Councillor Paul Fellows saying: “We owe it to the people of South Kesteven and the Deepings to pursue this project.”

Councillor Paul Wood, another independent, said: “We need to have some meaningful conversations with the people of the Deepings. I would also like an assurance that money generated by the leisure centre would offset it running costs. Overall this is the best deal we can get.”

Deepings Leisure Centre.

However, Independent Councillor Dilks said residents had been let down by broken promises.

“When we were promised a new build centre, we were told the cost would be in the region of £20m,” he said.

“The money never made it into the council’s financial plan. Stop blaming COVID. There have been broken promises. The people we seek to serve really do deserve better.”

Amendments to retain an existing area of pool hall and to seek financial sustainability of other leisure services were either defeated or withdrawn.

The leisure centre was closed in July after rainwater leaks in the roof caused safety concerns, with councillors U-turning on a decision to make the closure permanent after a backlash from local residents.

Other options ranged from completely new builds priced between £20-35 million and refurbishment options from £6 million up.