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The Demolition of the Dumfries DG One Leisure Centre

Before it opened to the public in 2008, there was detectable pride during a tour of the DG One leisure centre, as it offered Dumfries a substantial upgrade on its aging facilities.

Those who remembered the old Greensands swimming pool must have been especially impressed with the site, which included a gym, multi-use entertainment space, and catering.

There were, however, warning signs of the major structural defects that were later uncovered, even during the construction process. They included continuous delays to the opening schedule.

To the untrained eye the building, valued at £17m, was impressive when it finally opened. However, it experienced a string of problems not long afterwards. Tiles coming loose forced a leisure pool to close only two weeks after the pool opened, and a training pool had to be taken out of service to allow its tiles and moving floor to be replaced.

By 2011, surveyors were engaged to pinpoint the cause of the major structural defects. One of the centre’s main facilities had been closed for more than 200 days since opening, which is the equivalent of one day a week that it could not provide services.

In 2013 Galloway Council and Dumfries finally commenced legal proceedings against DG One’s builder, Kier Northern. A year later the center was closed down and its services made available at other facilities in town. Repairs, however, could not be started until the legal situation had been resolved.

 

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In 2016, it almost looked like a solution had been reached, as a settlement permitting remedial work worth £10m was agreed. However, more major structural defects came to light, which will cost at least  £3m more to address. This has resulted in public ire against the council, whose head has contacted both the Health and Safety Executive and the police about the possibility of a criminal investigation.

In the interim, despite the rising costs, the local authority has made the difficult decision to carry on with the repairs, as demolition and replacement were not seen as viable options. Instead, the council wants a final figure within two months on how much it will actually cost to revive the DG One centre. To enable the repair work to continue, £500,000 has been invested, and an inquiry into how the major structural defects reached this point has been ordered.

The council has directed blame at Kier, the constructors, but the council may also be required to answer a few questions during the investigation. In its attempts to win back public trust in its building projects, it has accepted that this process must happen.

In the interim, the scaffolding will remain in place around the DG One centre as work to bring it back into use continues.

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