St Columb’s Park centre to close

LONDONDERRY sports clubs have objected to the proposed closure of St Columb’s Park Leisure Centre this summer that will leave that part of the Waterside without a sports facility for over a year.

Stuart Hamilton of the St Columb’s Park Junior Climbing Club said the impending closure will leave the entire city without a climbing wall for 18 months and will affect 50 local children.

An instructor from a local Karate club, which regularly uses the facility, also contacted the paper to express concern at the closure.

Mr Hamilton said: “I am aware that there are suggestions that St Columb’s Park Leisure Centre is to be closed and demolished in the near future to make way for the new facility, which is not due to open until late 2014.

“As the instructor of the St Columb’s Park Junior Climbing club, which has been run at the centre over the past two decades since a climbing wall had been installed, I am expressing my objection to the plan to close the centre and leave the North West without a climbing facility for approximately 18 months!”

A spokesperson for Derry City Council confirmed the centre is scheduled to close in May/June of this year.

A new £12m sports campus will then open in early 2015 - leaving a hiatus in sports provision for over a year.

“Council is in the process of engaging with its staff, stakeholders and users to consider their requirements and to explore every opportunity to find alternative accommodation for the duration of the construction phase,” a spokeswoman stated.

“Display stands, illustrating the size and range of facilities the new centre will bring, will be on show at both St Columb’s Park and Lisnagelvin Leisure Centres in the coming weeks.”

The Council spokesperson said every effort is being made to minimise inconvenience to users explaining that the investment will provide greatly increased and new sports/leisure opportunities for everyone, from elite athletes and club performers to recreational users.

“It is anticipated that the new facility will open in early 2015, a report on the consultation process and planned closure will be prepared for approval in March,” the spokesperson added.

“The new development will also secure jobs and bring a much needed boost for employment in the area. The centre will offer a wealth of opportunities for all users and will have the facilities and capacity to host major local, national and international sports events, another key legacy from the 2013 City of Culture,” the spokesperson concluded.