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Newark Advertiser reader’s letter: Is centre rebuild really cost-effective?

Recently I received an “update” from Newark and Sherwood District Council and Active4Today regarding Southwell Leisure Centre.

The centre’s main swimming pool has been closed since October, ostensibly because the pool was losing 8,750 litres of water a day.

A number of repair options were said to have been considered, and the only feasible one is estimated to cost £645,000 although it is not known if more than one estimate was actually obtained or whether the proposed solution involved digging up and replacing the entire pool.


At first glance this water loss looks huge. However, assuming it is entirely due to leakage and ignoring evaporation, it probably represents only a small proportion of overall water usage at the centre.

At the current Severn Trent domestic water charge, 8.75 cubic metres of water at £1-7587 per cubic metre would cost £15-38 a day, or £5,616-85 a year.

At this rate, if the leak was ignored, it would take almost 115 years for the cost of water to exceed the repair bill! This also assumes that the water in the pool is never normally replenished or renewed for hygiene purposes.

Newark and Sherwood District Council favours an alternative solution - to build a complete new pool and learner pool on an adjacent site at a cost of £5.5m as a first step in replacing the whole leisure centre.

The reason for this is given as “the risk of other repairs emerging as the as the repaired pool would still be situated in a 60 year old building.”

This excuse could be quoted as a reason for demolishing and rebuilding most of the properties in Southwell and Newark.

The council took over the management of the centre in 2021 from Southwell Leisure Centre Trust. Under a 25- year lease, the council has spent £353,000 on historical repairs and another £750,000 programme of works is scheduled to take place, which is very laudable for a loss-making facility.

All this suggests that at a time when funding for any project cannot be guaranteed, the council may use a modest water leak as an excuse to close the pool and abandon the £750,000 plan to modify the existing leisure centre.

Anyone familiar with building estimates would question whether the cost of replacing the entire leisure centre will ever become affordable. – D. Cameron, via email.

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