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Hundreds against plan to close down leisure centre

14 Feb 2024 3 minute read
‘Save our leisure centre’ protesters. Image: Kate Alderson

Nicholas Thomas Local Democracy Reporter

More than 200 people have objected to a council’s plan to shut one of its leisure centres, arguing the proposed closure would have a negative impact on them.

The results of a public consultation show nearly three in four people who responded are against Caerphilly Council’s plan to close Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre.

Common reasons for their opposition include claims other leisure centres are too far away, and that there are not enough all-weather pitches nearby for local sports teams.

“Sustainable future”

The council has defended the proposed closure, believing that it will “contribute to a more efficient and financially sustainable future [for its] leisure facilities”.

The Pontllanfraith site closed in March 2020 at the beginning of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, and later served for nearly two years as one of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s vaccine centres.

The council argues it would cost almost £500,000 to clear the nearly-50-year-old centre’s maintenance “backlog”, and the existing 3G all-weather sports pitch has reached the end of its “typical lifespan”.

A Centre for Vulnerable Learners is being built nearby on the old Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School site, which will include an all-weather pitch accessible – from the spring of 2025 – to the wider community outside of school hours.

But a lack of all-weather pitches in the area is at the centre of many complaints about the leisure centre’s proposed closure, and a council report shows members of at least 20 sports clubs took part in the consultation.

Of the 307 total responses submitted by residents, some 74% said the proposed closure would have a negative impact on them, while just 10% said the move would be positive.

The majority of people who took part said they had used Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre once a week or more before the 2020 lockdown.


The council noted respondents felt there were “not enough sport and recreation facilities generally across the county borough to meet demand”, and new housing developments could “exacerbate” the issue.

Respondents also noted a “shortage of 3G space” and concerns the new all-weather pitch at the Centre for Vulnerable Learners would be smaller and unsuitable for competitive matches.

There were also concerns alternative leisure sites are “too far away” and difficult to reach without a car, and “generally, it was felt that fewer facilities will have a negative impact on health and wellbeing”, the council noted.

People who said the proposed closure would have a positive or neutral impact, however, suggested other facilities around the county borough would “allow residents from any area a choice” and would be of a “better quality” or “more modern” standard.

The council is planning to open a new leisure and wellbeing “hub” in Caerphilly town, with construction set to begin in August 2024.

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