Bonnyrigg centre gets more time

Green MSP Alison Johnstone and fellow campaigners outside the leisure centre. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Green MSP Alison Johnstone and fellow campaigners outside the leisure centre. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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CONTROVERSIAL plans to bulldoze a leisure centre have been postponed.

Councillors in Midlothian agreed a three-month stay of execution for Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre in King George V Park to allow more time for plans to be developed to give the building a new lease of life.

They rejected a bid by Bonnyrigg Centre Trust, which had plans to reopen the premises as a community hub and play centre, and also a bid from Midlothian Fitness Academy.

However, the decision to delay demolition leaves the door open for revised or new bids to be submitted to the council before the end of June.

And today architect Douglas Strachan, who was involved in the Bonnyrigg Centre Trust proposals, said the group would be re-examining its bid and hoping to improve it within the timetable.

He said: “The council has been very complimentary about 90 per cent of what we submitted but expressed concern about ten per cent, which had to do with the funding arrangements.

“We have already taken advice on the things they picked up on. They are perfectly valid criticisms and we do consider them to be 
resolvable.

“In the next three months, we will revise our plans accordingly and resubmit.”

Mr Strachan said the trust would stick to its proposals to create a soft play/party venue with cafe, community offices, a youth club and a skate park and then transform the former pool into a large creative play centre.

At the council meeting, Green councillor Ian Baxter, seconded by the SNP’s Lisa Beattie, proposed giving the trust preferred bidder status to help it win promises of funding for the project. However, the call was voted down.

Mr Strachan said it had not been possible to put funding in place without an agreement in principle from the council the trust would get the building.

But the group now has a grant from the Development Trust Association Scotland to pay a professional to advise on how to strengthen the business plan. “We think we can address the criticisms,” he said.

The council said the delay in demolition would allow the two bidders to revise or new bidders to come forward with proposals for the building.

The leisure centre was closed by the council last year following the opening of the Lasswade High School Centre, which has facilities open to the community.

iswanson@edinburghnews.com