Senior councillors have given the go-ahead for consultation to begin on a controversial plan to build a new leisure centre in Pontefract Park.
Wakefield Council revealed plans for the £14.8m complex earlier this month. It could include a ten lane swimming pool, gym and exercise studios, climbing activity, cafe and meeting rooms.
Existing leisure centres in Knottingley and Castleford would close in January next year, under the proposals. And the current Pontefract Pool would shut around the time the new centre opens.
Coun Les Shaw, cabinet member of culture, leisure and sport said: “I hope people will take the time to share their views on the proposals.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the Five Towns to get the first class facilities they deserve.
“We have done extensive work to try and create a leisure complex that meets people’s needs now and going forward. The proposals will give residents the chance to access sport, recreation, social and wellbeing activities, and help us all live healthier lives.”
The leisure centre, which would also include a sports hall, soft play area, outdoor tennis courts and five-a-side 3G pitches, has been met with mixed reactions.
Some residents raised concerns about the closure of current facilities. Kerry Gardiner said: “It’s hard enough to get a good lane swim in as it is with all three open, imagine what it’s gonna be like with people trying to squash into just one pool?! Horrendous.”
Rebecca Johnson wrote on Facebook: “It would be great to have a new pool... But not at the expense of three other pools.” And Angela Gowthorpe added: “Why on earth would you close current facilities before the new one is built? Utter madness.”
But Coun Shaw said: “Any refurbishment of these sites would be extremely expensive and would never be able to deliver the same facilities that we are proposing for the new leisure and wellbeing centre.”
Others agreed and welcomed the plan. Mark Bates said: “It is about time they did something all the pools around here are in dire need of refurbishment or demolition.”
The consultation runs from tomorrow (Thursday) until November 9. People can have their say at www.wakefield.gov.uk or by visiting the leisure centres.