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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Call to ditch plans for £9m Cumbrian leisure complex

Workington town council is pressing for plans for a multi-million pound leisure centre to be thrown out, claiming the earmarked land is on a flood plain.

Workington leisure centre graphic
Artist's impression of the new leisure centre

Allerdale council’s plans to build the £9 million complex at The Cloffocks are out for consultation.

But town clerk Chris Bagshaw, speaking on behalf of the authority, said the earmarked land had been threatened by a “tidal inundation” just last winter.

Town councillors are calling for Allerdale Council to reject the planned development, as it is on an inappropriate site.

“The tragic events of 2009 (when Workington was flooded) loom large in the (planning) committee’s thoughts,” added Mr Bagshaw. “Climate change modelling seems to suggest that extreme weather events which fall beyond the scope of local modelling, are likely to become more frequent.

“It is the view of the committee that the planned development, whilst worthy in design and purpose, is on an inappropriate site for such a high-profile facility and therefore the application for planning consent should be refused.”

The town council’s planning committee agreed to the formal response when they met last week.

Natural England has also commented on the consultation, which runs until Friday, saying it had concerns over possible damage to the banks of Soapery Beck which could lead to sediment or pollution entering the beck, then flowing into the River Derwent, creating a barrier to migrating salmon and lamprey.

Two members of the public have lodged objections against the plan.

Including Jean Wilson MacLeod, of Hillcrest, Northside, who stated: “The site is totally unsuitable.

“The provable facts are that the underground of Laundry Field (on The Cloffocks) is riddled with extensive illegal ancient coal mine workings of which the National Coal Authority has no record.”

Allerdale Council has remained vocal about the reasons to why The Cloffocks site was chosen ahead of two others in the town, including Moorclose where the current leisure facility stands.

It said a flood risk assessment and investigations relating to historic mining and contaminated land at the Cloffocks had been considered by the council’s executive before the location was chosen.

The Cloffocks site also topped a public consultation into where the centre should be built.

A spokeswoman told the News & Star they would take “mitigation actions”, subject to planning permission being granted, “to ensure the new swimming pool and leisure centre is designed so it does not flood.”

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