New Spenborough sports centre on track to open in September

Inside the new Spen Valley PoolInside the new Spen Valley Pool
Inside the new Spen Valley Pool
Work is progressing apace on Spenborough’s new £15m sports centre, with the leisure complex set to be completed on time despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The forthcoming Spen Valley Leisure Centre replaces the former Spenborough Pool, which closed and was demolished in 2019.

The new centre on the A638 Bradford Road in Liversedge will have an eight-lane 25m pool as well as a secondary activity pool with an adjustable floor making it shallow for children and deeper for adults.

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All facilities – a 600sqm gym, exercise studios and changing rooms as well as the pools – will be under one roof.

Among those keen to see the facility open to the public is Steve Hall, the Labour councillor who chaired the planning committee that gave the project the green light.

“To see it come from photographs and drawings to a quite amazing building is brilliant,” he said.

“A lot of people cannot wait for it to be open.”

Also applauding progress is veteran Liberal Democrat Coun Kath Pinnock, who said she and others in her party fought “long and hard” for a new pool for the Spen Valley.

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She said: “Way back in 2013 it was clear from engineers’ reports that the original pool was cracking up.

“It was also clear that the council did not, initially, want to build a replacement.

“The council consulted Sport England and its report said that there was no need for a replacement pool. We didn’t give up and continued campaigning with local petitions and questions to council.

“We raised it as a campaign issue at every election until the council gave in. The first plans for a new pool were of a smaller, very basic one.

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“‘That’, we said, ‘is not good enough. The Spen Valley serves over 50,000 people and local schools rely on it for swimming lessons. We want, and need, a full replacement.’

“I am personally delighted that our campaign has had such a fantastic outcome.”

Workmen have begun tiling out the new pool and council chiefs are confident that the entire project will be up and running by the end of September, which fits the timeline for completion.

“That was the plan all along,” said Coun Hall, who represents nearby Heckmondwike.

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“To be still on track with that date when we have been dealing with Covid shows what a marvellous job the constructors have been doing.

“If it takes a week or two longer, so be it.”

The council has faced a headache since the old pool’s closure in 2019: how to accommodate the hundreds of youngsters from 27 schools who attended the site for lessons by the coachful.

They were found new locations by the council and staff from Kirklees Active Leisure.

Building work by construction company Kier began last summer, a year after the scheme was approved by planners.

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It is the first major leisure infrastructure in the north of the borough for decades.

Coun Pinnock, who represents Cleckheaton, said the full replacement pool will be “a huge asset and benefit” to local people.

She and others are now working to fund a replacement for the popular skateboard park that was behind the pool building. It was created through the efforts of Lib Dem former councillor Ann Raistrick.

It was demolished as part of the new build. Lib Dems are now working with the council to find a new nearby site and the funding for a replacement.

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Coun Hall said it was one of the biggest projects to come to the council’s Strategic Planning Committee.

“When you get something like that and you see it come to fruition, it gives you a bit of pride.

“I was part and parcel of that. It’s a good feeling.”

The much-loved Spenborough Pool was opened by the Duchess of Kent on March 7, 1969.

Prior to its closure staff said the 50-year-old building was past its prime.