Belfast's Robinson Leisure centre set to be flattened
But £20m new facility to replace it is at least four years away
Belfast's Robinson Centre leisure facility will be demolished as it is too expensive to upgrade it.
A recommendation to create a new centre at a potential cost of £20m rather than an estimated £5m to tackle the asbestos and legionella at the existing complex will be ratified at a Belfast City Council meeting on June 1.
The centre served the Castlereagh Road area of east Belfast before it was closed immediately after April 1 when it came under Belfast City Council control.
It could take four years before the council is able to replace the leisure centre with a new facility.
A purpose-built complex is likely to be approved by the council irrespective of a judicial review in the High Court set for September.
It will consider the transfer of the centre from Castlereagh District Council to Belfast under local government reorganisation.
The costly problem of asbestos in the building caused 11th hour problems between the two councils as the handover loomed.
A new report into the centre's health and safety issues has further identified a "significant level of legionella" bacteria in the complex.
However, a statement from Belfast's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee (SPRC) recommended the centre remain closed ahead of the judicial review and redevelopment plans.
It also warned: "The planning of this work in no way is an acceptance that the transfer of the centre to Belfast City Council from Castlereagh Borough Council under local government reform was correct or lawful. The demolition is therefore approved in the event that the centre remains with Belfast City Council."
SPRC chairman councillor Declan Boyle stressed that the committee felt that demolition and rebuild was the best way forward for ratepayers in east of the city.
"We feel that the best course of action and the best value of money for the ratepayers of Belfast is to knock down and replace as opposed to removing the hazardous materials and then having to replace the centre perhaps in 10 years time," he said.
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council declined to comment last night.
Hazardous asbestos was discovered at the Robinson Centre in east Belfast in February ahead of its transferral from Castlereagh District Council to Belfast City Council. The 38 staff who were transferred as part of this will continue to work for Belfast leisure services during its closure. Former users of the centre were given an option of using other local council centres or ending their membership. It was named after First Minister Peter Robinson when he was a member of Castlereagh District Council.