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Legal battle over leisure centre nears a resolution

By Alan Erwin

Published 20/04/2016

Talks aimed at resolving a legal battle over a leisure centre closed amid asbestos fears are at an advanced stage, the High Court has been told
Talks aimed at resolving a legal battle over a leisure centre closed amid asbestos fears are at an advanced stage, the High Court has been told

Talks aimed at resolving a legal battle over a leisure centre closed amid asbestos fears are at an advanced stage, the High Court has been told.

Belfast City Council is currently seeking a judicial review of a decision to transfer the Robinson Centre in Castlereagh into its control.

The challenge, brought against the Department of the Environment, was due to be heard next month. But a judge agreed to take the case out of the lists after being informed of ongoing efforts to end the dispute.

Tony McGleenan QC, for the department, said "advanced discussions" are set to continue.

He suggested putting the case back until after the Assembly elections are held on May 5.

New ministers could then be in place to make a final decision on the leisure centre, the court heard. Mr Justice Deeney agreed to adjourn proceedings until June. The Robinson Centre closed in February last year due to health and safety concerns over asbestos. The facility was transferred from Castlereagh Borough Council to the new Belfast super council on April 1, 2015.

It prompted an eleventh-hour legal bid to stop the handover.

Although Belfast City Council was denied an order restraining the department from making the transfer, a challenge to the legality of the move has continued.

The cost of refurbishing the centre has been estimated at a conservative £5m. In May last year a committee at Belfast City Council approved demolishing the facilities if they remained under its control.

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