The proposed demolition of a former community centre has exposed the lack of youth facilities in a County Durham town. 

Glenholme Youth Centre in Crook was once home to several community organisations and run by youth workers, tasked with engaging children through a host of leisure and sport activities. 

But the loss of the vital workers, a lack of investment and deteriorating facilities led to its decline. 

Now, Durham County Council has proposed demolishing the building. Although it does not own the site the local authority has submitted the plans for the centre and the nearby former bowls pavilion. 

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For county councillor Anne Reed, who represents Crook, the building’s demise started in 2015 when many of the groups who used the facilities relocated to more sustainable premises. Cllr Reed said its poor performance was then exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. 

Ambitions to turn it into an internet cafe never materialised and now the site could soon be reduced to rubble. 

The Northern Echo: Durham County Council has proposed demolishing the buildingDurham County Council has proposed demolishing the building (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

Inside, the interior is severely damaged by leaks that had been caused by the poor quality roof. Any repairs turned out to have been performed in vain when safety inspectors later deemed the site unsafe. 

It meant Cllr Reed had to break the devastating news to the groups and families who still used it, including the local boxing club.

“My heart is with the kids and taking something away from them was a very difficult thing to do, but we had to weigh it up with people’s safety,” said Cllr Reed. 

“We didn’t realise just how much damage there was and how much it would cost. It’s been a continuous decline. The youth workers held it together and could bring people in from the surrounding area. 

“It’s been repeatedly damaged and broken into and there is the worry that people will hurt themselves.”

Finding a new site able to host community groups and to provide facilities for teenagers is now a priority. 

Cllr Reed added: “The building would cost far too much money to put it right and it has to go. But we need youth facilities in the area. We need to find out what people want and whether they would use it. 

“We need youth workers, who can connect with groups to bring people in to make it sustainable. We can’t just rely on volunteers running it.” 

The Northern Echo: The former bowls pavilion could also be demolished The former bowls pavilion could also be demolished (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

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Durham County Council said it will work with the community on the future use of the site. 

Anna Wills, asset strategy and property manager at the local authority, said: “We are looking to demolish the derelict former Glenholme bowls pavilion and the Glenholme Youth Centre as they have stood empty for some time and their condition has deteriorated considerably due to anti-social behaviour.

“We await the outcome of the planning application for the former youth centre but will work with ward members and the local community to decide what the site will be used for in the future.”