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Council Agrees to Demolish Brandywell Sports Centre

14 April 2016

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Health and Community Committee has approved a Council recommendation to close and demolish the Brandywell Sports Centre and proceed with a detailed programme of temporary relocation for existing user groups at the facility.

The Brandywell Sports Centre has been closed for a number of months following a recent building structural and maintenance assessment where a number of health and safety implications were identified.

A robust health and safety management inspection also identified a number of issues at the facility that would require regular control intervention and result in partial and full closure of the facility on a frequent basis.

The Chairman of the committee, Alderman Drew Thompson said that based on these findings it was agreed that the demolition of the premises and the temporary relocation of user groups was the most cost effective and beneficial decision for Council.

He explained that the operation of the facility is constrained by the non-sports specific design, age and condition of the building fabric, and there would be costs involved to meet current and anticipated health and safety and compliance standards. He said that while planned preventative and remedial work programmes have kept the facility operational, there has been a series of short term closures with increasing frequency over recent years.  

“This has an impact on user groups and whilst management arrangements to date have been effective in addressing this, the increasing frequency of closure and need for relocation of user groups raises issues of future sustainable programming. It was therefore agreed that the early demolition of the centre and the semi-permanent relocation of the user groups is the best way forward for Council.

“It will allow us to provide an immediate service improvement for existing user groups, allow us to look at the development of a new purpose built facility that is cost effective and suited to meet our needs. Any new facility would have wider benefits for the local community and have the potential to attract new user groups and individuals and have a significant impact on the wider regeneration of the Brandywell and wider area,” he said.

Karen McFarland, Health and Community Director with Derry City and Strabane District Council explained that the development of a replacement facility for the Brandywell Sports Centre has been identified within the Council’s capital programme.

“It is envisaged that a pre-qualification process to identify a restricted list of suitably Integrated Consultant teams will be issued in May 2016.  On this basis a provisional programme for the works would suggest a possible start date of August 2017 and completion envisaged at the end of 2018.”

She added that the demolition of the sports centre will be beneficial to the ongoing Brandywell Stadium Development programme that is ongoing.

“Additional benefits arising from the early demolition of the sports centre could be achieved for this development include improved location for kennelling and weighing room facilities; the relocation of Lonemoor Road access to improve parking; enhancements to the dog track to include additional best practice discussed with the project stakeholder group including increased length and starting trap and finish line relocations; and the benefit to the contractor of the removal of site constraints. This also presents the opportunity to relocate the new sports centre on an alternative site. “

A number of alternative options were also put forward at the meeting including a complete refurbishment programme estimated to cost in the region of £500,000 - £750,000 or a partial refurbishment of the existing facility, estimated to cost in the region of £250,000.

Members were informed that the cost for relocation of the two resident clubs is estimated to be in the region of £35,000 while the costs for demolition will be included as part of the overall budget for the Brandywell redevelopment.

It was noted that staff redeployment will be required within the existing leisure services of Council and that there would be ongoing consultation and engagement with the user groups affected.

It was also agreed that a Design Development and Business Case to define the location and associated costs for the new sports centre will be presented to a future meeting of the Committee for consideration.