More than £2.5m will be spent on a leisure centre with a series of repairs and replacements.

Ageing and obsolete equipment is to be replaced at the Dolphin Centre in Darlington town centre, which enjoys its 40th anniversary this year.

Darlington Borough Council will spend £2.2m on replacing mechanical and electrical installations and equipment, and £325,000 on repairs of the pool tank.

The final phase of works to update and maintain the leisure centre was presented to cabinet meeting.

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Councillor Kevin Nicholson, cabinet member for health and housing, said: "The Dolphin Centre is the council's only indoor leisure venue, providing a range of health and wellbeing activities across the town. Its town centre location contributes significantly to town centre footfall with over a million visits per year.

"The Dolphin Centre first opened in 1982, so it's been open nearly 40 years. As with any building it requires periodic investment to keep the facility operating and compliant with statutory requirements.

"There have been numerous interventions and changes to the building over the years, most significantly in 2006 which resulted in substantial remodelling. However limited work was carried out on the mechanical and electrical installations at that time.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Kevin Nicholson. Picture: Northern Echo.Cllr Kevin Nicholson. Picture: Northern Echo.

"A phased approach has been taken to replacing the old mechanical and electrical installations and the equipment within the Dolphin Centre, with the first phase taking place in 2015-16.

"The third and final phase of the replacement programme will be over the next 18 months which will cover the remaining areas of the Dolphin Centre.

"Mechanical and electrical equipment upgrade parts include new standby generators, sports hall lighting improvements, central hall ventilation, electrical updates, space heating updates and pool repairs."

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Previous work covered the pool, gym, wet changing village refurbishments, replaced windows and ceiling in the pool hall, bowling alley, soft play, changing rooms and meeting areas, all costing £4.4m in total.

A council report said "it may be necessary to close the pool for a short period" during its repairs, with other possible "localised restrictions or short closures of some spaces", but impact on customers would be minimised.

Cllr Anne-Marie Curry said: "I welcome the updates that are needed to the Dolphin Centre. It's a brilliant venue and well used."

She asked about limiting the work to times of lesser use.

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Cllr Nicholson said: "The Dolphin Centre's no stranger to having works undertaken and they've always done it in a considerate way to our customers.

"A lot of the work is behind the scenes so I don't think there's any major interruptions other than the pool repairs which may mean that the pool may need to be closed for a period of time for safety and to make sure that's repair's effective.

"There is an operational plan which takes into consideration all of the elements... making sure it's accessible for all people.

"I do welcome the investment. I'm proud that we're bringing this report today."

The cabinet agreed to release the money for the installations and repairs.


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