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News | 11th February 2021

Sports centre redesign is to be scaled back

Flood plain and funding challenge force rethink on Townfoot


THE size and scope of the redevelopment of the Townfoot Sports Centre may be reduced to overcome two substantial obstacles.

The site has been identified as being at medium to high risk from flooding, which would result in an objection from Dumfries and Galloway Council.

The other issue is that in this difficult financial climate it will be harder to attract funders, particularly if there is potential for flooding.

A project review concluded that, despite the challenges, there is still an opportunity to redevelop the existing building.

The working group plans to look at possible changes to the project, for example, by reducing the size and scope of the development to improve the chances of a successful planning application and capital funding support.

The design feasibility study for the redevelopment of the centre had been completed and had successfully developed three initial design layout options, each with associated capital cost plans.

These included bold and innovative designs which met the aspirations of the community who took part in a survey.

The centre would include a bigger pool with a changing village, outdoor tennis courts, a gym, squash court, soft play area, boulder wall, a social area with vending machines and other options.

The project was taken on by the Langholm Initiative, together with the building’s owner, Ashleybank Investments, after Edinburgh Woollen Mill closed it two years ago.

Campbell Scott, chairman of the working group, said: “The feasibility study has identified a number of challenges.

“These must be addressed before the project can move forward.

“One key issue is that the development site has been identified as being on a floodplain, with a medium to high risk of flooding.

“This, in turn, has raised objections from the council during the pre-planning application assessment survey.

“Another important concern is that a full redevelopment will cost about £4m.

“It is likely that raising this sum will be extremely challenging during the pandemic and in the current economic climate, especially when the floodplain issue might make potential funders cautious of supporting the development.

“The group provided a project review and status update to its governance review team last month.

“The review concluded that, despite the challenges, there is still an opportunity to redevelop the existing building and the working group plans to look at possible changes to the project, for example, by reducing the size and scope of the development to improve the chances of a successful planning application and capital funding support.

“The governance team agreed it was appropriate to close this phase of the project and were supportive of the work to date and recognised the challenges for the project.

“The working group understands that, while a reduced scope project may not fully meet the original project aspirations, a smaller and phased development would still contribute positively to regeneration as well as, more importantly, benefit the community’s well-being.

“In the coming weeks and months the group will consider potential design options and funding needs and the long-term financial sustainability of the redevelopment.

“We wish to express our thanks to the project funders for their continued support and to Robert Potter and Partners for the excellent work undertaken during the study.”

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