The centre was first developed in 1979.
Andersonstown Leisure Centre is to close its doors on May 29 so that refurbishment works can begin.
Plans for the new centre were revealed in March as part of Belfast City Council’s £105m Leisure Transformation Programme . The programme aims to promote the Andersonstown facilities as the centre for water-based family fun.
The new centre is due to open in the summer 2019 with users advised to use other council leisure facilities in the meantime.
£25million was invested into the project, which will provide a family fun water centre and dry leisure facilities.
However staff at the Leisure Centre have said they are angry at the lack of information they have received regarding the future of their jobs when the centre closes.
Deborah Boyle has worked as a receptionist in the centre from when it was first built in 1979.
She claims that staff have been given an “unfair choice” and that some still do not know if they will be given employment in other council leisure centres. Mrs Boyle says:
“They’ve offered us a redundancy package which is pathetic. It’s pittance.
I’ve worked here for nearly 40 years, loads of us have been here since the beginning.
It’s an unfair choice, either take the redundancy or wait around and hope there’s room for you somewhere else.”
The renovation follows the opening of the state-of-the-art Olympia Leisure Centre located on Boucher Road, Belfast.
Now simply named ‘The Olympia’ the centre is managed by the GLL ‘Better’ brand which has worked in partnership with Belfast city council to operate leisure centres since 2015.
“Just not good enough”
People Before Profit Councillor Matthew Collins says that both staff and the community haven’t been given sufficient opportunity to voice their concerns. Mr Collins claims:
“I’ve spoken to the community and staff members who are not happy with the development plans.
Consultation was minimal from the start and it is just not good enough that some staff have been left confused when the closure is so soon.”
Swimming instructor Brendan Mulholland has been running swimming lessons for children for over 20 years in Andersonstown.
Brendan will be taking lessons in Whiterock until the building is finished and understands the need for renovation, but disagrees with the design plans of the new centre. He says:
“I’m trying to teach young people how to swim competitively and they’re making this place into a kiddies fun centre.
The council don’t care they just want to get as many people as possible through the doors”
“It definitely needs modernised.”
Regular gym user Clare Bannon says that new facilities are needed. Clare says:
“The rooms aren’t very well ventilated and the spin studio and gym can get so warm that you’re sweating before you’ve started working out! It definitely needs modernised.”
Ventilation, changing rooms and dry areas are to be improved upon under the new plans.
A Belfast City Council spokesman has stated:
“Having developed initial designs for the new facility, we carried out a community consultation in September 2016.
Based on the feedback from this consultation the designs for the new centre were further refined.
We carried out a further period of consultation and recognise the importance of engaging staff to ensure they are aware of plans going forward.”
The new Andersonstown Leisure Centre is due to open in summer 2019.