Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has praised an education minister, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and the Diocese of York for making “significant progress” after stepping in to speed up work on the planned £14million leisure centre at All Saints Academy in Ingleby Barwick.
The new development will see a leisure centre on the grounds of All Saints, a Church of England Academy on Myton Road, as well as a new library which will also make more space for classrooms at the school.
The multi-million pound leisure centre will feature a swimming pool, gym, library, café, pedestrian plaza and customer service point. There will also exercise studios which can be used to host a variety of classes. This will the first public leisure centre in Ingleby Barwick, which to date has only had private gyms.
However in June, the future of the project was thrown into doubt when the Department for Education (DfE) refused to sign off the final transfer of land from the School to the local Council, putting the whole development at risk. According to Mayor Houchen, DfE officials with “little understanding of the situation” placed “unnecessary barriers” to slow the project down.
Following a series of delays to the project, Mayor Houchen stepped in to meet Education Minister Lord Agnew personally to make the case for the new centre and stressed its importance to the local community.
The Mayor’s intervention resulted in an agreement between the local Council, the Department and the local church diocese to resume the work and to complete the transfer of land ownership. The new facility is now scheduled to open in summer 2019.
Mayor Houchen said: “It was touch and go, but pleased to have got this exciting project back on track. Stockton Borough Council, All Saints Academy, Government and the Diocese can all be proud of how they have all worked together to deliver an excellent facility for the people of Ingleby Barwick.
“I grew up in Ingleby and my parents still live there, so I know just how much this new facility will mean to people. We have waited for years for just such a centre on our doorstep, which will make a big difference to people who currently have to travel elsewhere to access leisure centres, and especially those who can’t easily travel so far.”