Lobbyists call for new leisure centre changes

An impression of the pool with inflatables at the new �30m leisure centre planned for Craigavon
An impression of the pool with inflatables at the new �30m leisure centre planned for Craigavon

Lobbyists are hoping Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council revises plans for a new leisure centre in Craigavon after groups voiced substantial concerns.

At a lengthy meeting on Monday night with the South Lakes Leisure Centre project management, councillors and senior council officers, stakeholders spoke of a litany of issues they believe need addressing.

Swimming clubs and organisations across the borough have united to protest against the proposals.

The lobbyists believe there has been no meaningful consultation. There are also concerns about the lack of capacity of the proposed pools.

Lobbyist Catherine Hanratty believes the format of the pools is unsuitable. “It won’t be able to provide the swim programmes and the council swim lessons.”

Mr Raymond Acheson added: “The existing capacity can’t be catered for.”

They were also unhappy that an area the size of Lurgan’s Waves swimming pool will be ‘basically a paddling pool’ and they did not think this was feasible. The lobbyists want the three separate pools re-examined for size and use which would more accurately cater for the needs of the current local community and future clients.

They suggest a bigger main pool, a slightly bigger ‘learn to swim’ pool as that would facilitate a lot of groups in the area and a reduced paddling area.

Mr Acheson described the meeting as ‘meaningful’ and said he believed the councillors had been informed on issues they perhaps were not previously aware of.

He believes councillors have ‘an appetite’ for a rethink on the plans and is hopeful that when the matter comes before the full council meeting on Monday that there will be a continued pause in proceedings so that further consultations can take place.

The lobbyists believe that redesigning the leisure centre to accommodate the new proposals would not be financially prohibitive and worth making the effort to do so.