Lye And Dudley Earmarked As Sites For New Leisure Centres

Dudley Council have confirmed that derelict sites in Dudley and Lye are on the cards for two proposed leisure centres which could replace the borough's three existing facilities.

Council chiefs announced plans last month to replace Halesowen, Dudley and Stourbridge's Crystal leisure centres and build two brand new facilities to replace them.

This was met with disapproval by many, who felt that more should be done to upgrade the current centres which provide leisure facilities to the boroughs major towns. There was also uncertainty about locations for any new developments. Many residents, however, felt that wherever the new developments were built, somebody would loose out.

Council chiefs have now confirmed they have a large piece of authority-owned land just off Lye Bypass, near The Butterfly Centre, which could potentially accommodate a new leisure centre with parking.

They also have their eye on Dudley's Flood Street car park as a potential site for a new facility to replace Dudley Leisure Centre. Alan Lunt, Dudley's strategic director for place, said: 

"We own both of them - we wouldn't have to shell out for land."

The council wants to build two brand new leisure complexes with 24-hour gyms and 25-metre swimming pools to replace the outdated existing centres which they say are in desperate need of repair and are subsidised by almost £2 million each year and struggle to compete with modern, private facilities.

The most expensive to maintain is the 26-year-old Crystal Leisure Centre, which required a subsidy of £977,000 for 2015/16. Dudley Leisure Centre, which is 38-years-old, has cost the council £523,000 in subsidy during the last year; while Halesowen Leisure Centre, which was also built more than 50 years ago, needed an annual subsidised of £246,000 to plug the operating deficit. Speaking to the Dudley News, Mr Lunt added that it would cost almost £20 million to refurbish them to give an extra 30 years of life.

Councillor Kurshid Ahmed, Dudley's cabinet member for leisure, added that he and Councillor Pete Lowe, leader of the authority, were responding to queries raised by concerned leisure centre users and groups. He said: 

"We're already working with swimming clubs and we're addressing the concerns. We have got two options - bury our heads in the sand or start looking ahead for the future and make sure the communities have better facilities. 

"We want to make sure these leisure centres are there for years to come - if we leave the ones that are there the bill for maintenance keeps going up."

The plan will be on the agenda at next week's cabinet meeting at Dudley Council House on Wednesday (December 14).


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