Could £20m leisure centre plans be scuppered by relief road?

Artists impression of the Five Towns Leisure Centre.
Artists impression of the Five Towns Leisure Centre.

Opposition is mounting over Pontefract’s planned new leisure centre amid claims the land has already been allocated for a proposed relief road.

The blueprints for the £20m new centre at Pontefract Park were revealed earlier in the summer as a long-term replacement for the recently closed centres at Castleford and Knottingley.

It will include a 25-metre swimming pool, gym, climbing zone, 3G tennis courts and football pitch and space for 250 cars. The council is hoping the work can start this December, if planning is approved.

However, around 30 letters of objections have been sent to Wakefield Council with a list of concerns.

These include worries over traffic, concerns over the number of trees being felled and questions over the possible development of green belt land.

But several also say the land in question has already been earmarked for a relief road by Wakefield Council.

Ian Bridges said: “This conflicts with Wakefield Council’s Local Development Framework, and breaches policy TS8 on the South-East Link Road / Featherstone and Pontefract bypass road which prevents development in the park.

“Maps clearly show a shaded area covering Park Lane, New College and Pontefract Park, marked ‘Safeguarded Corridor for Relief Road’ thus preventing any development pending a decision on the final route.

“The preferred route was to the rear of New College, through Pontefract Park to Parkside Retail site roundabout on Park Road, meaning the full-size football pitch and car park would be directly in the path of the preferred route.”

According to Wakefield Council’s website, the land is part of plans to provide a bypass for Ackworth, Featherstone and the west side of Pontefract.

It reads: “This scheme requires further evaluation and its delivery is not critical to the delivery of the development plan at this stage.

“However, the South-East Link Road remains an important long-term objective for the district and as such the route of the road should be safeguarded from development.”

Wakefield Council said: “If people have comments or objections we would encourage them to get in touch via out planning portal or write to: Planning Services, Development Management, Wakefield Council, Wakefield One, PO Box 700, Wakefield, WF1 2EB.

“The need to include the planning reference - 18/01441/FUL. All material comments will be considered as part of the planning application process.”

The leisure centre plans are expected to go before the planning committee in the coming months.