Still no opening date for Ripon’s new swimming pool

There is still no opening date for Ripon's new swimming pool as the multi-million pound project continues to run over budget and into more construction problems.

By Jacob Webster
Monday, 7th February 2022, 4:46 pm
This is the inside of Ripon's new swimming pool.
This is the inside of Ripon's new swimming pool.

Harrogate Borough Council had originally aimed to open the pool in May 2021, but the project is now nine months overdue and £4m over budget.

This is after several construction problems, most recently including a fault in the lining of the pool. An underground void has also been discovered at the adjoining leisure centre site which has prompted an £110,000 investigation.

Councillor Stanley Lumley, cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport at the council, previously said he anticipated the pool would open in January.

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But the council has now confirmed that a revised opening date has still not been set.

Speaking in December, councillor Lumley said: "New swimming pools go through a significant amount of testing to ensure they are safe to use for years to come and provide the best experience for the customer.

"During the testing period of the new six-lane 25metre swimming pool at the leisure centre on Dallamires Road in Ripon, an issue was identified with the lining of the pool.

"In order to resolve this issue, Myrtha – the pool manufacturer – will be carrying out additional work, at no expense to the borough council, to prepare the pool for opening."

The council awarded a £10m contract for the pool build to construction firm Wilmot Dixon in January 2020. As of last month, £13,422,309 had been spent on the project with a further £584,690 allocated.

This includes money spent on investigation works after the underground void was discovered at the site. It was found in 2020, but only became public knowledge last May when the investigation launched.

These works are currently underway and are likely to continue into spring.

Initial studies suggest there has been a "significant deterioration" of the ground beneath the older half of the centre which was built in 1995 and like much of Ripon sits on gypsum deposits.

It is likely that ground strengthening works will be needed, although the council has insisted the leisure centre is still "safe to use".

The new pool is being built as a replacement for Ripon Spa Baths which closed in November, leaving the city without a pool for the last three months.

The 116-year-old baths was put up for sale by the council in a move which sparked concerns that the venue could lose its community use and also prompted Ripon City Council to successfully apply for the building to be nominated as an asset of community value.

This protected status means any sale has now been put on hold for several months to allow time for community bids to come forward.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter