Castle leisure centre won’t open till 2016 admits council boss

The long-awaited new public swimming pool at Elephant & Castle won't be open for locals to enjoy until the new year, it emerged this week.

Castle leisure centre won’t open till 2016 admits council boss

Senior councillors have remained tight-lipped about the hold-up, sticking to carefully scripted statements and ignoring queries on social media, but at Tuesday afternoon's cabinet meeting the director of regeneration Steve Platts was in a more loquacious mood.

Minutes after Cllr Mark Williams – who holds the regeneration cabinet portfolio – had insisted that the leisure centre would be open "very shortly", he was contradicted by one of his own most senior officers.

Giving a rundown of the council's regeneration projects at the Elephant & Castle, Mr Platts said that the leisure centre will be "opening very early in the new year".

"The building will be substantially complete at the end of this month," he added.

"We are just in the process of commissioning the building, testing all the mechanical engineering services in there, so it doesn't overheat, it doesn't steam up, the showers are hot [and] the showers work when we open to the public."

When council leader Peter John feigned surprise at the latest delay, claiming to have been assured that the centre would be open in November, Mr Platts replied: "It is finished. Ish."

The timetable for completion of the centre had already slipped by more than a year.

When councillors approved the grant of planning permission for the new centre in 2012, it was expected to be ready for public use in Autumn 2014.

The new leisure centre has been part-funded by the sale of half the old leisure centre site to Lend Lease who are constructing the One The Elephant tower of luxury flats.

Lend Lease recently told shareholders that it had pre-sold 99 per cent of the homes in the new tower, generating around 138 million in revenue.

The tower, which cost 79 million to build, has no affordable housing either on-site or elsewhere.

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