05 FEB 2018

Dover's new leisure centre is "on schedule"

Steel roof beams are up at the new Dover leisure centre as work continues to progress "on schedule". I visited the Honeywood Parkway site on Friday (February 2). I was joined by Roger Walton (Director of Environment and Corporate Assets at Dover District Council) Rika Hemachandra (Designer Manager at BAM Construction) and Lee Tucker (Senior Site Manager at BAM Construction).

Mr Tucker told me there are around 45 workers on site, including three apprentices from the local area. Foundations and piling began over Christmas and ground beams will be down by the end of this week. Despite recent wet and windy weather, he said work was "on schedule" ahead of a planned opening date of February 2019. Construction should be finished by Christmas.

It was great to have a look round the new leisure centre site. So much progress has been made already. A new leisure centre in Dover was badly needed – and seeing exactly where all the new facilities will fit in has really brought it all to life. It's another sign that our corner of Kent is finally getting the investment it deserves – more than £400 million since 2010. With St James about to open and the seafront regeneration underway, the brighter future we all want is on the horizon.

The new £26 million Dover leisure centre will feature a competition-standard eight-lane swimming pool, with spectator seating for 250 people. There will be a learner pool with a movable floor, a four-court sports hall, squash courts, a multi-function room, a fitness gym with 120 stations, fitness studios, a clip 'n' climb wall and a café. The plans also include two outdoor 3G artificial pitches for five-a-side football and at least 250 parking spaces.

The project will replace the original Dover Leisure Centre in Townwall Street, which opened in 1976. It will be demolished when the new one opens and U have already met new site owners Citycourt about plans for using the land for more St James parking provision, alongside additional shops.

Things really are moving forward quickly for Dover. We must protect our existing high street and find better ways to link it to the seafront. Yet we should also remember how far we have come. Where once stood Burlington House and the ugly multi-storey car park, there is now a brand new shopping and cinema complex. The district council deserve great credit for all their hard work. Brick by brick, Dover's fortunes are changing.

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Charlie Elphicke

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