Published: 12:00, 21 January 2021
| Updated: 16:02, 21 January 2021
New artist’s impressions reveal how a revamped leisure centre could look as work continues on a multi-million pound refurbishment.
Ashford Borough Council shut the Stour Centre last summer to allow for an extensive year-long revamp which includes a new climbing wall and pool features.
Announced in June, residents were outraged at the complete lack of warning over the proposal - a move that saw more than 100 staff lose their jobs.
But ABC says work is progressing well on the changes to the facility, which underwent a £17m revamp in the mid-2000s and is due to reopen in the summer.
In all, the latest refurbishment - which will see gym facilities extended and changing rooms revamped - is expected to cost £6.5 million.
ABC says without closing the centre, the works would have taken about nine months longer, with disruption expected until March 2022.
When the site reopens, Costa Coffee will be served at the new cafe and the reception area will have a fresh look with updated turnstiles.
In a job advert posted online promoting a general manager position, it says the centre will reopen on Tuesday, June 1.
Cllr Matthew Forest (Con), ABC’s portfolio holder for culture, tourism and leisure, said: “The Stour Centre improvements are progressing well, with it on schedule to open in the summer.
“As the borough continues to grow, we feel passionately that our leisure offer must evolve to meet demand and expectation and ensure Ashford remains active.
“This is even more important given the effects of the pandemic.
“We look forward to our residents being able to use the new facilities later this year.”
Ivan Horsfall Turner, managing director of Freedom Leisure, which runs the Station Approach site, said: “It’s great to see the investment into redeveloping the Stour Centre really starting to take shape.
"We look forward to the completion of the project and being able to reopen the centre which will provide a fantastic health, fitness and leisure experience for everyone in Ashford.”