New leisure centre proposals for Bishop Auckland will prove a boost for health, wellbeing and sport in the town and surrounding areas, according to County Durham Labour.
The party is driving forward Durham County Council plans for a new facility, next to Bishop Auckland FC’s Heritage Park football ground, at Tindale Crescent.
The £20m facility forms part of a £78m leisure revolution across County Durham, that will also see new venues created at Chester-le-Street and Seaham.
Labour’s West Auckland ward councillor, Rob Yorke, has thrown his backing behind the project, saying that the leisure centre will be at the centre of a sporting hub on the outskirts of the town.
“This new leisure centre is a game changer for the town,” said Cllr Yorke. “The size of the site means we can accommodate 4G pitches, a swimming pool and learner pool, state of the art gym facilities, all with fantastic access.
“Having spent the majority of the last year in lockdown, people are ready to shake off the shackles placed on us all by the pandemic and socialise, exercise and start to bring back some sort of reality. It is vital that Labour continues its effort to create facilities that allow people to do these things in a safe and secure environment.”
The existing leisure centre will remain open during construction of the new facility, and it is proposed that the Woodhouse Close Community Hub – co-designed with residents and boasting a new library and education suite – will replace the old centre, which is around 50 years old.
Cllr Shirley Quinn, of Shildon ward, echoed Rob’s comments, adding: “This new centre will have health, social and economic benefits that reach beyond the boundaries of Bishop Auckland.
“Siting it at Tindale Crescent means that people from my ward and the other outlying communities have easier access to the centre and has the benefit of reducing traffic clogging roads in the town centre.”
Helen Goodman, is standing for Labour in the West Auckland ward in May’s local elections and has thrown her backing behind the proposals too.
“This is a hugely exciting and important project for this area,” said Mrs Goodman. “Tindale Crescent offers space, good traffic access and adds to the already excellent retail offer in the area.
“The Council has also pledged to improve traffic flow and accessibility in the area, so coupled with proposals to improve walking and cycling links across and into the town, there are multiple benefits to be had from backing this exciting project.”
The Labour members are also investigating potential partnerships with the football club, and the plans have been backed by Bishop Auckland FC Chairman, Steve Coulthard, who said: “Having the new leisure centre as our neighbour will be incredibly important for the ongoing growth and development of the football club.
“To have access to state-of-the-art 4G pitches, brand new gym equipment and a swimming pool would allow us to further enhance training, attract more youngsters to the sport and generally help create an exciting sporting hub in an area that will really benefit from new facilities. It’s incredibly exciting.”
“As the new centre is being developed, we will work with residents to develop facilities and programmes at Woodhouse Close that focus on the needs of residents and help to regenerate the local area.”