More ground investigation works at Ripon Leisure Centre likely to lead to partial closures
An investigation was launched in May after the void was found during works on the centre's new swimming pool and engineers have now recommended an underground survey of the older half of the venue which was built in 1995 and is currently being refurbished.
If approved by Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet next Wednesday, the survey would begin at the start of next year and is likely to lead to remedial works which would close that half of the venue for six months.
The centre's new swimming pool, which is due to open on 8 December, would remain open and not be affected by the works.
Michael Constantine, head of operations at Harrogate Borough Council, said in a report: "The consultants have advised that further investigatory works are required to be undertaken over the remainder of the Ripon Leisure Centre footprint
"Subject to the findings of the further investigative works, remediation works to stabilise ground conditions should therefore be undertaken.
"Ripon Leisure Centre will close during the duration of the remedial works and it is likely that these will take approximately six months to complete."
The void is understood to have been beneath the older half of the centre for several years and was discovered near where a sinkhole opened up in 2018.
The initial investigations covered around 15% of the building's footprint and if approved by councillors next week, the remainder will be surveyed.
It is likely this will lead to the need for ground strengthening works, similar to what was done to stabilise the ground beneath the new swimming pool.
During this time, the council said it would look to provide gym facilities at a different venue in the city which is one of the UK’s most sinkhole-prone areas.
Construction firm Willmott Dixon was awarded a £10.2m contract to build the new swimming pool and refurbish the leisure centre in 2019. The project was due for completion earlier this year, but there have been several delays which the council said were mostly due to the pandemic.
The new swimming pool is being built as a replacement for the 116-year-old Ripon Spa Baths which will close as a leisure venue on Sunday.
The historic building was put up for sale by Harrogate Borough Council this year before it was nominated as an asset of community value following a successful application by Ripon City Council.
This protected status means any sale has now been put on hold for six months to allow time for community bids to come forward.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter