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New £26 million leisure centre and pool at Tides in Deal

Plans to build a new £26 million leisure centre and swimming pool for Deal are being explored.

Dover District Council’s cabinet agreed last Monday to develop a project resulting in a new build on the existing Tides site in Park Avenue.

Tides Leisure Centre will be demolished except for the sports halls and tennis centre
Tides Leisure Centre will be demolished except for the sports halls and tennis centre

The existing wet side - opened by Barbara Windsor in 1988 - would be demolished, replaced by a new six-lane pool, changing rooms and health and fitness facilities.

The existing sports hall and tennis centre, which opened in 2005 and 2011 respectively, would remain.

The discussions follow on from a £700,000 urgent plant refurbishment project in 2018 to allow the deteriorating centre to continue operating in the short term, reducing the risk of temporary pool closures.

At the same time £10,000 was set aside for an options appraisal and feasibility study - the results of which were discussed at last Monday’s meeting.

Cllr Trevor Bartlett, leader of Dover District Council said: “While we continue to undertake urgent and essential plant maintenance at Tides Leisure Centre, it is vital we consider the options and financial business case for developing a new leisure facility that would complement the success of the new Dover District Leisure Centre.”

"It is vital we consider the options and financial business case for developing a new leisure facility that would complement the success of the new Dover District Leisure Centre...”

In his report for councillors, DDC’s strategic director Roger Walton said investment “cannot be avoided” and the findings came from a team of consultants including The Sports Consultancy, GT Architects, Faithful &Gould and Hadron Consulting.

They advised of a 10 swimming lane deficiency in water space across the district even after the new Dover District Leisure Centre opened with an eight lane pool last February.

A six lane 25m pool at Tides is now recommended whichwould reduce this deficit to four, making the plan more attractive to funding bodies like Sport England.

If the project goes ahead, the wet and dry facilities would be closed for two years during construction ahead of a target opening in the first quarter of 2023.

A business model has already been developed following the same approach taken for the Dover District Leisure Centre (DDLC).

Tides Leisure Pool in Deal. Picture: Your Leisure
Tides Leisure Pool in Deal. Picture: Your Leisure

Mr Walton’s report added the improvements would create “significant budget pressures as the improvement in revenue used to fund the borrowing does not fully cover the estimated project cost of £25.8m leaving the council with either a capital funding deficit of £4.7m or an annual revenue pressure of £201k.

“However recognising the continued deterioration of Tides Leisure Pool, the inadequacy of facilitiessuch as the fitness suite and changing areas and the consequent impact on services such as the fitness gym & aerobic classes being conducted in poor standard non-purpose-built environments, it is clear that investment in the facility cannot be avoided if service provision at this site is to be maintained,” the report said.

Councillors agreed to set aside £500k from the capital programme to support the next stage of the project and to authorise Mr Walton to prepare and submit a grant application to Sport England’s Strategic Facility Fund.

The cabinet also passed the appointment of Faithful & Could as lead consultant, and permitted Mr Walton to liaise with the centre’s operators Your Leisure to negotiate revised operational & financial management arrangements.

Your Leisure has the lease until March 31, 2025.

Kevin Fordham managing director of the company said: “Your Leisure is looking forward to working with the council and the appointed consultants to deliver new facilities and services at Tides. Encouraging more people to become more active is important to Your Leisure and better facilities will assist in achieving this.”

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