Falkirk Council reveals plans for promised new leisure facilities in Bo'ness

What the planned new community wing for Bo'ness Academy will look like
-Credit: (Image: Falkirk Council)

The promised facilities that will replace Bo'ness Recreation Centre are taking shape as part of a wider review of Falkirk Council 's leisure services.

The £10.5 million plans include a 'community wing' being added to Bo'ness Academy and new facilities that have yet to be agreed for Denny and the Braes.

These will be in addition to a new £35 million leisure centre that will replace the Mariner Centre and Grangemouth Sports Centre, if councillors agree at a meeting of Falkirk Council's executive next week.

Read more: New Falkirk leisure centre costing £35 million to be built

The proposals for Bo'ness - where the recreation centre closed for good last month - are the most advanced.

The council was widely criticised for the closure of the recreation centre before any replacement had been agreed and it hopes plans to spend £3.5 million creating a 'community wing' of Bo'ness Academy will be welcomed by residents.

If approved, the aim is for construction to start in late summer 2025, once the school has returned to council ownership.

The report estimates that the build will take between 14 and 16 months, which means the new wing could be fully operational in the autumn or winter of 2026.

The Bo'ness proposals suggest that residents will have access some of the facilities during the day, including the new gym, which the council promises will be more than double the size of the gym at the former Recreation Centre.

Plans for the new fitness suite that will be in the community wing of Bo'ness Academy
Plans for the new fitness suite that will be in the community wing of Bo'ness Academy -Credit:Falkirk Council

The facilities shared with the school - including the 20m pool - will be open outside school use and the work will include improvements to the changing facilities.

A new rugby pitch is also being proposed as part of the work.

The report says that an expression of interest has been received from a community group interested in taking on the existing Bo'ness Recreation Centre through a Community Asset Transfer.

However, officers say that this could significantly delay the new proposals from progressing and the hope is that the group will choose to support the new proposals.

However, officers would support a second community community group who propose to use the cleared site of the former Recreation Centre to build complementary sports, leisure, and ancillary facilities.

The report suggests that officers would "work with them and provide support to develop their proposals".

Falkirk councillors had initially agreed to commit £3.5 million to all three projects but that amount will now be spent on Bo'ness alone.

For the Denny and Braes projects, the council will use late funding from the Scottish Government budget to borrow an additional £7 million.

Malcolm Bennie, Falkirk Council’s Director of Place Services, said: "These exciting proposals would provide Bo’ness with a better gym and studio offer than anything the town has previously had, open up access to the Academy’s great facilities, and create a new rugby pitch for the Rugby Club and school.

“Meanwhile the proposals in Denny and the Braes would bring quality sport and leisure facilities to communities that have previously had to travel miles to access such services.

“We know communities in Bo’ness, Denny and Braes are desperate for these new facilities which is why we have accelerated proposals as fast as possible."

The news was warmly welcomed by the SNP administration, who had been criticised for allowing closure of the 'reccy'.

Councillor Stacey Devine, Bo’ness and Blackness Ward, said: “After the Recreation Centre had to close so abruptly, it’s clear that the communities of Bo’ness should not be paying for nearly 15 years of political failings by successive Councils.

“Alongside my SNP colleagues, we have worked hard to bring forward plans for modern, fit for purpose facilities, with enhanced access and improvements to Bo’ness Academy, that I’m confident our community will see immediate and lasting benefits.

"I would hope that opposition colleagues will welcome this opportunity and vote to take these plans forward without further delay.”

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