Plans for a new leisure centre with swimming pools, gym and a library have been approved. 

Woodhouse Close Leisure Complex, in Bishop Auckland, will be demolished and replaced with the new facility as part of a transformation of sports facilities in County Durham. 

The new site will provide a range of sports and community facilities, also including fitness studios, a community cafe, soft play and a wellness hub.

A proposal for the upgraded complex was drawn up by Durham County Council after a review found the current facilities are beyond their lifespan, in a poor condition and struggle to meet modern standards.

The 50-year-old facility will remain open until the new complex is complete, due to be in 2025. 

Work on the new two-storey building will take place over four phases. In phase one, the existing library building will be demolished. Phase two will see the construction of the new building before the current complex is demolished. New car parking will then be created as part of phase four. 

The Northern Echo: How the new leisure complex could lookHow the new leisure complex could look (Image: Durham County Council)

Durham County Council held a public consultation on the proposal and found the majority of responses were positive and supportive, with many respondents agreeing that the leisure centre needs upgrading.

Local members for Woodhouse Close cllrs Joanne Howey and Cathy Hunt welcomed the approval. “One of our key priorities after the election in 2021 was to keep our local leisure centre open and secure improvements to the facilities,” cllr Howey said. “Residents were clear how important this was to them, and we are delighted the council has passed the plans.” 

Cllr James Rowlandson, cabinet member for resources, investment, and assets, said: “After serving the community for more than 50 years, the building is no longer fit for purpose.

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“We remain committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of our residents through the delivery of leisure services and our plans are to create a new, modern facility which will support the health and wellbeing of our communities.

“The plans at Woodhouse Close will support our vision to provide a range of employment opportunities as the centre expands its offer and range of products and services.”

The revamp of the Bishop Auckland site is one of three leisure centres that have been identified for investment, the other two being in Chester-le-Street and the Louisa Centre in Stanley.