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New look for refurbished Fairfield Pool and Leisure Centre revealed

PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 March 2014

An artists' impression of the new leisure centre. Photo: Willmott Dixon

An artists' impression of the new leisure centre. Photo: Willmott Dixon

Archant

These graphics show the future Fairfield Pool and Leisure Centre, after an £8million facelift which starts this month.

An artists' impression of the new pool. Photo: Willmott DixonAn artists' impression of the new pool. Photo: Willmott Dixon

But the building, in Lowfield Street, Dartford, will not be fully reopened for a year, forcing sports clubs and children’s groups to look elsewhere for a base.

A new sports hall with four badminton courts, larger entrance area, diving boards and sauna are among the changes.

Cllr Andy Lloyd, Dartford cabinet member for sport and leisure, said: “Fairfield Pool is hugely popular but it has been serving the town for 40 years and now deserves a full overhaul and expansion.”

When the centre reopens in spring 2015 it will be “fit and ready for a whole new generation of users”, said Cllr Lloyd.

Lowfield Street in 2013. It is being regenerated.Lowfield Street in 2013. It is being regenerated.

Planners hope the changes will enable the centre to host a wider range of sports and make spaces more flexible so they can be used for different activities.

The pool will have new wet-only changing rooms and be re-tiled, treated and deep-cleaned.

Hazel Tew, vice president of the Dartford District Swimming Club, said the new centre will be worth the wait.

She said: “The current building is just old. it was built in 1976 and we have been there from day one.

What’s changing?

In a year’s time, the Fairfield Leisure Centre will have:

• A new multi-use sports hall with four badminton courts

• A two-storey front extension with an improved entrance, larger reception area, soft play area and café with views into the main pool hall

• A 3m diving platform and springboard

• A poolside sauna

• Removed partitions separating the main pool from the learner pool

• Separate wet and dry changing areas on ground and first floors

• New tiles of pool surrounds

• Relocation of the fitness suite to the first floor

• A new spinning studio adjoining the fitness suite

• Two interconnecting dance studios on the first floor, replacing the squash courts and soft play area

• Replacement of roof covering and windows

• New car park layout and landscaping

“The plans look good. I think for Dartford and Lowfield Street it’s going to be really positive.”

The club, which has about 200 members, from children to experienced swimmers and divers, has had to make alternative arrangements while the work is carried out.

Before the Parkwood Leisure firm took control of the centre in 2010, it was infamous for cleanliness and safety complaints.

In 2006, a member of the public reportedly had to save a child from drowning and Health and Safety officers investigated the centre later that year.

Problems with cleanliness in the pool and changing rooms were also reported and high bacteria levels were found in a routine water quality test in February 2013.

According to a Dartford Council report, the refurbishment will “create the look and feel of a new facility, while retaining the positive features of the existing centre”.

The plans were exhibited at the Orchards Shopping Centre and at Fairfield Pool and Leisure Centre last month.

Building work is due to start on March 30 and take up to a year to complete, although the council is hoping for an earlier finish.

Properties are also being demolished in Lowfield Street after supermarket giant Tesco was given permission to build there.

Developers say the project will help regenerate Dartford town centre and create jobs.

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