South Scotland

Dumfries leisure centre with 'unique' failings ready to reopen

DG One
Image caption The DG One centre is set to reopen next month after closing for repairs nearly five years ago

A flagship leisure centre which has cost more to repair than it did to build is on the brink of reopening.

An inquiry into the scale and range of failings at the DG One site in Dumfries described them as "unique".

It shut for major remedial work nearly five years ago but is on course to welcome the public again next month.

Dumfries and Galloway Council is "absolutely determined" it will open for its 15 July target and deliver a "top-class facility" this time around.

Image copyright McLaughlin & Harvey
Image caption McLaughlin & Harvey said it had "forensically surveyed" almost every square metre of the building

The DG One building - now rebranded as DG1 - originally opened in 2008 but problems quickly emerged with the construction.

A catalogue of issues ultimately led to its complete closure for repairs in October 2014.

The bill for those remedial works has surpassed £20m - compared with original construction costs of about £17m.

About £10m was recouped by the council from first contractors Keir but council leader Elaine Murray admitted it had been a tough decision to take the repair works forward.

Image caption The council leader said they had invested to ensure they got a "top-class facility"

"I mean nobody's happy that we have one leisure centre for the price of two which is basically what's happened," she said.

"But at the point when Rob Davidson and I came into the leadership of the council two years ago there was quite a stark choice.

"We either had to decide that we had to continue to invest to have a top-class facility - which I believe this is - or else we would knock it down and the town and the region would not have anything like this."

She said that despite the problems and the cost she thought it would prove, over time, to have been the right decision.

Image caption The leisure centre has been rebranded as part of the overhaul

"I think it is right that we have a good leisure facility which helps people - both their physical and mental health," she said.

"There's a lot of benefits for people in having a facility like this and I think it was the right decision to take."

She said the scale of the work meant it was almost like having brand new premises.

"It certainly is a transformation compared to what it was like - even before we discovered all the faults that were wrong with it," she said.

"It's a very different building in the same skin, if you like, but actually a very different building inside - much more up-to-date, a lot more family-friendly and also with some really excellent facilities now for people who have a whole range of different leisure interests."

Image caption The public will return to the leisure centre on 15 July nearly five years after it shut

Richard Grieveson, head of safe and healthy communities with the council, said he believed the public would notice a huge difference after the overhaul carried out by new contractors McLaughlin & Harvey.

"I think they'll immediately see that the quality of the build and the feel of the build really is very, very different from what we previously had," he said.

"The project manager has worked very closely with McLaughlin & Harvey and there's been a strong commitment from all parties to ensure that this building is fit for purpose.

"It will give us the longevity that we require and we're all really excited for the opening."

Image caption Builders said they believed they had completed a "fantastic looking" facility

McLaughlin & Harvey managing director Paul Griffen said his company was used to challenging projects but this one presented had some unique pressures since they were appointed to carry out the repairs.

"It has been a long journey since the end of August 2016 but in terms of what we've created here it's a fantastic looking facility for the community of Dumfries and Galloway," he said.

"I think there's always the expectation with a refurb that it might not be brand new but certainly, in the bulk of the public facing areas, it actually looks like a brand new facility and one that I'm sure is long-awaited.

"The pool, the training pool and leisure pool are very, very sharp in terms of quality."

Image caption A lot of work has gone into the swimming pool area of the complex

He said their focus was on doing things right first time, relying on good teamwork to ensure the job was a success.

"We have forensically surveyed almost every square metre of this building and I guess that's why it's taken so long," he said.

"So with that and with attention to detail and with the right quality subcontractors I'm confident we have delivered a very, very good facility."

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