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Deepings Leisure Centre might never reopen

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A town leisure centre which closed 10 days ago because of a leaky roof might never reopen.

The cost of fixing 47-year-old Deepings Leisure Centre will run to £1.2m according to a new report to be discussed at an emergency meeting of South Kesteven District Council, which has managed the facility since the 1970s.

The building and the land it stands on, next to The Deepings School in Park Road, is owned by Lincolnshire County Council. Both local authorities agree it doesn't make financial sense to patch it up.

Deepings Leisure Centre might never reopen
Deepings Leisure Centre might never reopen

Drawings and plans for new leisure centres in Stamford and the Deepings were released by the district council in March 2019, and a preferred site for a £15m new Deepings centre was identified on the corner of Linchfield Road and Spalding Road.

But during the covid pandemic conversation on the project dried up.

Now the council's cabinet members will have to decide whether it will quit its management of the current leisure centre on September 1, due to serious health and safety concerns relating to the condition of the building.

An artist's impression of a new leisure centre in the Deepings, released in 2019
An artist's impression of a new leisure centre in the Deepings, released in 2019

Recent heavy rain resulted in significant leaks throughout the building and a piece of roof was found in the swimming pool.

Barry Dobson, deputy leader of South Kesteven District Council and cabinet member for leisure said: “Deepings Leisure Centre is reaching the end of its operational life and, considering the significant imminent health and safety risk, we must urgently discuss the future viability of this building.

“While the report highlighted no immediate health and safety concerns at the time it was completed, the recent torrential rain has accelerated the deterioration of the building and regrettably forced us to close the centre temporarily.

“People’s safety is our most important concern, but we do recognise the impact of the potential closure of this important community facility.

Debris from the roof was found in the pool after heavy rain
Debris from the roof was found in the pool after heavy rain

“The report and recent temporary closure of the building highlights the need for a new leisure centre in the Deepings."

Coun Dobson said while this was a shared ambition of the district and county council, they were yet to identify a suitable location, calling into question whether the site previously under discussion was no longer a favourite.

Lincolnshire County Council has now offered land on Millfield Road in Market Deeping. But many residents had criticised the county council when it applied last year to use the land for 260 new homes, despite promises it would bring £1m funding for schools and other infrastructure.

Swimming at the Deepings Leisure Centre pool
Swimming at the Deepings Leisure Centre pool

Lincolnshire County Council also says it will help The Deepings School find a temporary sports hall.

James Drury, director of commercial at Lincolnshire County Council said: “As a priority, we will be working with all parties to ensure that in the short term the school has an appropriate venue for exams and PE lessons.

“If the decision is made to close the leisure centre, we will also all be working towards keeping as many sporting facilities open as possible for the community with all partners involved, while a long-term permanent solution is explored."

If the centre closes, football and rugby pitches at Linchfield Road will remain available for public use.

The six full-time and 22 part-time and casual members of staff at Deepings Leisure Centre have been told about the condition of the building and the report into it. The district council says opportunities 'will be explored' to redeploy the affected staff at its leisure centres in Stamford, Bourne and Grantham.

The district council cabinet meeting will take place on August 17.

Councillors have launched a petition against the closure of the leisure centre.

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