Tuesday, June 25, 2024


PROGRESS on delivering new state-ofthe-art leisure facilities in Newcastle is “moving forward at a snail’s pace”, a councillor has said. Cllr Glyn Hanna has described the project to redevelop the town’s Newcastle Centre as “frustratingly slow”. And he estimates the project will be affected by spiralling costs.

Cllr Hanna said the original cost was estimated to be around £12 million but he believes that now the price could be closer to £16 million or £17 million. He added that Newcastle is the district’s main tourist destination and investing in council facilities, both for local people and visitors, is “critical”. “The Newcastle Centre redevelopment is frustratingly slow and moving forward at a snail’s pace,” stated the councillor for The Mournes. “My priority for Newcastle will be delivering a state-of-the-art leisure centre for Newcastle, fit for the needs of local people for the next 20 years plus. “I know many things need done to make this project a reality, and Covid has held this project back, but we need urgent movement forward now.” Having viewed the plans for the proposed new centre, he believes it will “deliver what Newcastle needs”.

He added that the project includes indoor swimming facilities, meeting rooms, tourist facilities and much more parking than exists at the moment at the Newcastle Centre. “I am very concerned about the cost of delivering the new Newcastle Centre as the estimate was originally £12,000,000, and I, in my opinion, believe this will come nowhere near the cost of construction in 2023. “I believe a reasonable estimate for construction of the new Newcastle Centre will be an increase of between 30 and 40 per cent, in money terms around £4,000,000, bringing the project in at £16 to £17 million. “Council officers need to get a move on to deliver a new centre asap for the ratepayers to save money. “I will be working along with other councillors to deliver for all the people. No party should be playing politics with this.” The local councillor added he believes it could cost as much as £7 million to fully restore The Rock Pool in Newcastle. “I want The Rock Pool properly reinstated to its former glory, with external funding in partnership between council and community groups, to cater for all the community, including the disabled, and make The Rock Pool an iconic attraction in Ireland and the British Isles to visit,” he stated. “I do not want to waste money on a sticking plaster repair to the pool, allowing the pool to open on a temporary basis for one or two years, costing two or three million pounds, spend which would be needed every few years. “Councillors were presented a few years ago with three options for The Rock Pool; the first being just stabilizing The Rock Pool to stop it falling into the sea, one million pounds, the second option, put a liner in the pool and clean up the pool with limited access for disabled, two million pounds, and the last option, rebuild The Rock Pool, three million pounds plus. “I said at the time to reconstruct The Rock Pool would take five million pounds but I would revise that estimate to seven million pounds with the increased costs of construction work, which would last 25 years plus.”

Cllr Hanna said that at the current time the priority for Newcastle should be securing new leisure facilities that can be used all year round. “I know The Rock Pool is iconic and there is a lot of sentimental attachment to the pool, but people have to be sensible with The Rock Pool. “I ask people to remember The Rock Pool would never support itself opening eight weeks a year. “I want The Rock Pool restored, and to move forward with funding secured externally from the Council. “The Rock Pool project should be in partnership between council and community groups. “At this time, I believe the new Newcastle centre should take priority as it will deliver for the community 12 months a year and all councillors should get behind this,” he concluded.

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