ASHTON’S now closed swimming pool is set to be earmarked for demolition.
And the near £2 million it will cost to knock down that and the site of now what was Adventure Longdendale, along with an adjoining car park, could see other Tameside Council schemes either stopped or delayed.
Protests against September’s closure of the site, on Water Street in Ashton-under-Lyne town centre, in order to keep other Active Tameside facilities open, led to 7,000 people signing a petition in a bid to keep it open.
Now after it was transferred fully back into the hands of the council, its executive cabinet is set to vote on declaring it surplus to requirements and it be knocked down, at a cost of up to £964,000.
They will then look to ‘capitalise’ the land as part of public realm work done in the town.
A report to the cabinet’s meeting on Wednesday, October 25 outlined the condition of the building – and how it would essentially pay for something not being used.
It also reveals how an attempt to get it listed failed.
It states: “The current rateable value is £100,000, which will represent an annual rates payable liability to the council of £51,200. The council will become liable for the payment of the business rates after expiry of the initial three months relief.
“In addition, there will be the costs of management, security and maintenance.
“A condition survey undertaken in 2021 which identified £610,000 of backlog maintenance was required and the building condition has significantly deteriorated since then.
“High level estimates for demolition have now been received, with an estimated cost of demolition of £964,000, but these costs can be capitalised and financed from a future capital receipt if demolition is considered to enhance the future value of the site.
“The council was notified that an application to list Ashton Leisure Centre has been submitted to Historic England in September and on October 3, Historic England confirmed to the council that following their investigation, advice and recommendation that the Secretary of State has decided that it would not be listed.”
Members and users of Active Ashton told The Correspondent of their horror at the closure of the facility.
However, despite thousands letting their feelings known in a petition, the economic argument weighed heavier.
The report adds: “A petition with 7,000 signatures was lodged on August 22, requesting the council to consider keeping the Active Ashton Pool building open. Additionally, there have been numerous other similar correspondence seeking the same.
“Active Tameside’s proposal to close these facilities was of course disappointing for everyone, especially Active Tameside.
“However, there are a number of issues, which have to be taken into account when reviewing the building’s future.
“The Ashton leisure centre was constructed more than 50 years ago, it is highly inefficient, and with rising energy costs and inflation, was being run at a considerable financial loss to Active Tameside.
“The council is unable to support the petition received to keep Ashton Swimming Pool open as it has insufficient capital to repair and maintain in a safe condition and insufficient revenue to manage the day to day running costs.”
Adventure Longdendale, on Manley Grove in Mottram, also closed and that site is set to be cleared – but the cabinet is likely to add extra land to help a sale.
The cabinet report explains: “In order to provide a more attractive development opportunity for the Longdendale Recreation site, it is proposed to include the adjacent council owned car park and ancillary land.
“The Longdendale Recreation Centre would otherwise remain as an unused area of land. This would not be released until practical completion of the new Hawthorn school, in September 2024, as it is currently used for the site’s contractor vehicle parking.”
The cost of demolishing the two sites would cost £1,771,000 but the council’s document explains it will probably have to be met by affecting other schemes, with loaning the money another option.
And cabinet members will be encouraged to back that method as it says: “The council does not have a revenue budget or a budget in the capital programme for these demolition works.
“There is no funding source identified with these demolition works. They can only be capitalised as part of a wider programme of works to deliver enhancements to the site.
“If these are capitalised works, there are four options to finance the scheme: 1. Delay or stop currently proposed capital schemes and transfer the funding from these schemes to the demolition budget 2. Approve the use of unearmarked reserves. 3. Fund from the revenue budget. 4. Borrow from an external source such as the Public Works Loans Board.
“Option 1 is recommended as allocated funding not yet used can be recycled into the urgent demolition works and future capital receipts can support the delayed schemes.
“Options 2-4 are detrimental to the revenue position and are not recommended.”