The reopening of a sports centre in the north of the borough is within sight following the achievement of a key milestone.

Kidsgrove Sports Centre is now legally under the ownership of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, paving the way for refurbishment work to start – with the Council’s chosen contractor beginning on site before Christmas.

The Council has reached an agreement with Staffordshire County Council on all outstanding legal issues relating to the transfer of the building which will ultimately lead to Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group (CIO) leasing it once the upgrade by Willmott Dixon is complete.

Officers have been working closely with the community group for the past two years with the aim of finding a sustainable way to reopen the swimming pool and sports hall in addition to providing a new gym.

Detailed condition surveys have informed a new centre design created by specialist leisure architects, in consultation with the community group, which makes the most of the existing layout, satisfies anticipated user requirements and provides a 25-year lifespan for the building.

The initial stripping out works is one of the approved capital projects that will use part of the £750,000 of advanced Town Deal funding received from the Government to improve residents’ health and well-being.

Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “The Council is committed to providing sports facilities in Kidsgrove that are modern, attractive, high quality and also meet the public’s expectations. The redevelopment and refurbishment of the existing sports centre, including the swimming pool – operated under community management – is the best value for money way to achieve this.

“We’ve worked extremely hard with Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group over many, many months to make this dream a reality so it’s wonderful to reach this next milestone of taking ownership of the building. Even the Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been able to stop us as together we’ve made great progress on the project scope, design and budget in recent months. The transfer of the property – in addition to the accelerated Town Deal funding announced in late September – is the icing on the cake. Combined with the new 3G pitch we’re providing at the King’s School, this represents a significant investment in Kidsgrove.”

Mark Clews, chair of Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group, added: “It’s fantastic news that this important milestone has now been completed. The fact that Kidsgrove Sports Centre is now in the Council’s hands means that renovations can begin – which is very exciting – and it will also enable us to go on to take ownership of the building ourselves.”

As well as transferring possession of the building, Staffordshire County Council has contributed £363,000 towards the project. Sport England is providing another £100,000.

Mark Deaville, Cabinet Member for Commercial Matters at Staffordshire County Council, said: “While the county council doesn’t have direct responsibility for running leisure centres, we are pleased to be able to make the centre available to the borough council and community interest group at no cost. I do hope that both parties are able to make a success of the leisure centre for the benefit of people in Kidsgrove.”

Main image pictured, left to right, at Kidsgrove Sports Centre are Council Leader Simon Tagg and Jonathan Gullis, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North.

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