Civic society urges councillors to reject £13million Knaresborough Leisure Centre plan

Knaresborough Civic Society is calling on councillors to reject a £13m leisure centre in favour of rival proposals for an extension of the town's swimming pool.

By Jacob Webster
Friday, 11th February 2022, 12:24 pm
This is how the £13million leisure centre could look if approved.
This is how the £13million leisure centre could look if approved.

The civic society is supporting plans from the ‘Not on Fysche Field’ campaign group which has produced designs to upgrade the 30-year-old swimming pool as an alternative to its demolition proposed by Harrogate Borough Council.

A recommendation of approval has been made by the council on its own plans at a meeting next Tuesday, and the civic society has cautioned councillors that they must "take full responsibility for the outcome of such a huge decision".

A civic society spokesperson said: "Knaresborough Civic Society urges the planning committee to reject this short-sighted recommendation in favour of an alternative solution which will not result in the loss of mature trees, vital outdoor play facilities and green space.

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"We have played an active role in campaigning for a more considered approach to this project and have made our views clear that building on the existing site - as was promised at the public consultation - should be the preferred option."

The proposed £13m leisure centre includes a six-lane pool and exercise studios, and has been hailed by the council as a "modern and fit-for-purpose" facility.

However, several concerns have been raised since the plans were first revealed in 2020, particularly over a council-run survey and the environmental impact of demolishing a building to replace it with another.

The survey on five potential locations for the leisure centre referred to locating it “on the site of the existing pool”, but it was only several months after this that the council revealed it wants to build the facility over a play area behind the existing pool at Fysche Field.

The civic society said demolishing the existing pool would result in "unnecessary damage" to the environment and argued it is at odds with separate council plans to extend The Hydro in Harrogate.

It also raised questions over what the scrapping of Harrogate Borough Council in April 2023 will mean for its proposals and new leisure company Brimhams Active.

A civic society spokesperson said: "Sadly many Knaresborough residents who use the play area will only be aware of the loss of valuable community green space when the trees are felled and the diggers move in.

"This would be the wrong decision by a council favouring a company run by councillors that may or may not exist after local government reorganisation in a year’s time."

If approved, the new leisure centre could be built by the end of 2023.

The other locations previously considered included Knaresborough House, Hay-a-Park, Conyngham Hall and a plot of land at Halfpenny Lane.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter