A design team to develop plans for two new major leisure centres at Templemore and in Strabane is expected to be appointed within weeks, it has been revealed.
The development in relation to the £50 million dual project was detailed during a presentation on a new strategy for sport and leisure facilities across the city and district.
Jonathan Gray, project manager with the Strategic Investment Board, is assisting with a sports and leisure strategy and delivered the presentation at the July meeting of the Council’s Health and Communities Committee on Thursday.
He said the framework was being informed by identified need, increasing participation and addressing health inequalities.
Mr Gray said the appointment of a design team to advance the replacements for Templemore and Riversdale sports complex was now under way, with the team expected to be appointed in September.
In terms of local swimming pools, he said: “There is a lack of leisure water space within the district following the closure of the wave pool at Lisnagelvin.”
SDLP Councillor Gus Hastings questioned whether the strategy was taking into account the border and cross-border usage of facilities. Mr Gray responded that Donegal and other neighbouring regions were being factored in.
Independent Colr. Darren O’Reilly said it was “very important young people are at the forefront of designing and give their views”.
Sinn Fein Councillor Eric McGinley said that Templemore and Riversdale “have been identified as flagship projects for the new council area so I very much look forward to the appointment of the design team.”
SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney said that the Templemore plans had been on the agenda for quite some time and questioned if there was anything that could be done to expedite the plans for the new leisure centres to get them “over the line.”.
Mr Gray said that data had shown that only around 35 per cent of local people are currently active, and 65 per cent are not.
“That is where the opportunity is to be able to drive that participation and make a difference,” he said. Existing leisure and health and fitness facilities across the region are being looked at, while a review of the quality of playing pitches and changing facilities is due to get under way this month.
Schools, clubs and all local stakeholders are to consulted as part of the plans, he added.