THE discovery of an underground void at a North Yorkshire leisure centre could lead to a six-month closure as an investigation is launched.

An investigation was launched in May after the void was found during works on the swimming pool at Ripon Leisure Centre.

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Engineers have now recommended an underground survey of the older part of the venue which was built in 1995 and is currently being refurbished.

If approved by Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet next Wednesday, the survey would begin at the start of next year and is likely to lead to remedial works which would close that half of the venue for six months.

The centre’s new swimming pool, which is due to open on December 8, would remain open and not be affected by the works.

Michael Constantine, head of operations at Harrogate Borough Council, said in a report: “The consultants have advised that further investigatory works are required to be undertaken over the remainder of the Ripon Leisure Centre footprint

“Subject to the findings of the further investigative works, remediation works to stabilise ground conditions should therefore be undertaken.

“Ripon Leisure Centre will close during the duration of the remedial works and it is likely that these will take approximately six months to complete.”

The void is understood to have been beneath the older part of the centre for several years and was discovered near where a sinkhole opened up in 2018.

The initial investigations covered around 15% of the building’s footprint and if approved by councillors next week, the remainder will be surveyed.

It is likely this will lead to the need for ground strengthening works, similar to what was done to stabilise the ground beneath the new swimming pool.

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During this time, the council said it would look to provide gym facilities at a different venue in the city which is one of the UK’s most sinkhole-prone areas.

Construction firm Willmott Dixon was awarded a £10.2m contract to build the new swimming pool and refurbish the leisure centre in 2019. The project was due for completion earlier this year, but there have been several delays which the council said were mostly due to the pandemic.


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