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Knaresborough Civic Society slams £13m leisure centre as looking like a 'warehouse'

Harrogate Borough Council is facing opposition over plans for its leisure centre in Knaresborough after the town’s civic society slammed it as looking like a “warehouse”.

Harrogate Borough Council is facing growing opposition over its plans to build a £13million leisure centre in Knaresborough after the town’s civic society slammed the designs as looking like a “warehouse”. After already receiving a petition against its plans, the civic society’s objection comes as another blow for the council which says it is convinced the project will provide a “modern” and “fit-for-purpose” facility to replace the existing Knaresborough Swimming Pool. Civic society secretary Andy Grinter said the group had raised concerns over the location and environmental impact of the proposed centre, but also questioned if there was a need for it at all. He said:

“The proposed building looks like an industrial warehouse and will be completely out of place. “These concerns raised by us and residents stretch right back to whether Knaresborough even needs a new facility in the first place. “If we go down this route of building a new leisure centre for the town we are making one heck of a big commitment.”
[caption id="attachment_21607" align="aligncenter" width="459"] Proposed designs for the new Knaresborough Leisure Centre.[/caption] Mr Grinter also said there has been a sense of “ambiguity” around the plans after a public consultation referred to locating the new centre “on the site of the existing swimming pool”. It was only several months after this that the council revealed it wants to build the new facility over a playground to the rear of the site at Fysche Field. In a letter of objection, the civic society said “this is not what the public voted for” during the consultation as the group also signalled their support for alternative plans for a refurbishment of the existing pool. These proposals are from resident David Hull who is behind the ‘Not On Fysche Field’ campaign which has gathered the support of around 940 residents for a petition. Mr Hull said:
“There is no proven need for this new facility and no council survey has ever been produced to condemn the existing site as ‘unfit for purpose’, yet this term is constantly being regurgitated by the council. “It could so easily be refurbished and/or extended on the existing brownfield site as these proposals clearly demonstrate.”
Defending its plans, councillor Stanley Lumley, cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport at the council, said the existing pool had a history of maintenance problems and that the proposal to replace it with a new centre had been well supported. He said:
“Knaresborough Swimming Pool was built over 30 years ago and is now showing signs of age. “The new energy-efficient leisure and wellness centre, which will include a six-lane swimming pool and activity pool, will prevent future closures and offer more water space than the existing facility. “These facilities will also include a sauna and steam suite, fitness area, bespoke cycling studio, cafe as well as electric car charging points, bicycle storage and a new play area. “Following a consultation last year, this is something Harrogate district residents have expressed they would welcome, and in October – when we asked people for their views for the proposals – more than half of respondents were in favour of the scheme. “Once complete, this investment will create a 21st century facility that provides fantastic opportunities for local people to move more, live well and feel great.”
If approved by councillors, the new leisure centre could be built by the end of 2023. By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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