Ground stability works at Ripon Leisure Centre are set to cost £3.5 million and cause further delays for a refurbishment project which is already over budget and more than a year overdue.
The costs have been revealed in a Harrogate Borough Council report which said the project now won’t be completed until spring 2024.
The centre’s new swimming pool opened earlier this year, but plans for a larger gym and exercise studios have been delayed after underground voids were discovered beneath the older half of the site which was built in 1995.
Engineering firm Stantec carried out ground investigations over winter and has now proposed remedial works which will cost the council £3.5 million and mean parts of the centre are closed for at least 10 months from November.
A temporary gym in the venue’s car park has also been proposed and will cost an additional £300,000, while the new swimming pool will remain open throughout.
A report for a meeting of the council’s cabinet next week said the authority had made “every effort to provide an accurate estimate” of the costs, but added these could rise further once the ground stability works begin.
The report also said: “It is appropriate and timely to undertake the remedial works now.
“The consulting engineer has previously stated that in their professional opinion a do-nothing approach is unacceptable from a public safety perspective.
“By undertaking the works, which also include installing post works monitoring equipment, the council will ensure that it has put into place adequate mitigation to address the risks.”
A decision to build the new swimming pool next to the existing leisure centre was made in 2019 despite some councillors raising “deep concerns” over ground stability issues at the site where a sinkhole opened up the previous year.
The council continually insisted that professional advice made it clear that the site is “safe to use” before it awarded a £10 million contract for the project to construction firm Wilmot Dixon in 2020.
Since then, a further £4.5 million has been set aside by the council after the discovery of the underground voids and other issues which delayed the opening of the new swimming pool.
This extra money does not include the ground stability works or temporary gym costs revealed this week.
If approved by cabinet members, the ground stability works will start in December and end next summer before checks are carried out and a monitoring system is installed.
The refurbishment works would then start after this, with completion in spring 2024.