Woodchurch Leisure Centre set to be demolished

A leisure centre that has been part of a community since the 1960s is set to be demolished.

Woodchurch Leisure Centre closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But in 2022 it was earmarked for demolition “to make way for a growth in outdoor leisure provision” as part of £20m budget cuts passed by Wirral Council that year saving it £402,000.

The leisure centre had been heavily subsidised by the council and would have needed significant costs spending on repairs. Following the 2022 decision, a community bid was put forward to take it over with supporters raising more than £83,000.

But at a meeting held in November 2023, Wirral Council decided not to allow community organisation Woodchurch Wellbeing to take over the leisure centre and to move ahead with demolition arguing it would be too expensive to reopen.

Councillors, however, asked for the local authority to review future opportunities for the site that “address the leisure needs of the Woodchurch residents including swimming.”

Now in a decision published on 20 March, the local authority said it does not need planning permission in order to move ahead with demolishing the leisure centre’s sports hall, swimming pool, gym, workout rooms, youth hub, and viewing balcony to the rear of the building.

Credit: Edward Barnes

A date has yet to be set for the bulldozers to move in. A Wirral Council spokesperson said, “No decisions have yet been made as to the future use of the site however officers will work with elected members to present alternative uses and opportunities for an enhanced sport and activity offer at this location in Woodchurch.”

The loss of the leisure centre has been an issue regularly raised by people living on the estate who said it was the latest in cuts to services there. A common concern was that with nothing to do, children in the area will hang out on the streets, get in trouble and risk getting involved in organised crime groups.

Others said they felt the estate was being forgotten. Lynne Howe, one of Woodchurch Wellbeing’s directors, previously said, “Against a backdrop of all of the social cuts that have been made, the community feel left behind. That is it in every sense and that obviously creates a certain level of frustration.”

However Wirral Council, alongside the Football Foundation, has invested £2m in new football pitches next to the former leisure centre, the first of their kind in Wirral. The site, which opened in February this year, is operated by the council in partnership with the Carrbridge Community Centre.

At the time, Mayor and councillor for the estate Jerry Williams, said, “This significant investment is in line with our plan to give more people access to good quality football facilities within the borough. Providing our communities with the facilities they’ve told us they want is an important part of encouraging local people to live active and healthy lives.”

Lead image: The back of Woodchurch Leisure Centre. Credit: Edward Barnes

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