Final cost for Ripon leisure scheme remains ‘unknown’


Last updated Jun 1, 2021
Photo of Ripon Swimming Pool construction site
The construction project is has been delayed by six months

The final cost of Harrogate Borough Council’s delayed multi-million pound leisure centre project in Ripon remains unknown.

In December, following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the Stray Ferret, the council said that the information was ‘confidential’

It did, however, confirm that:

“Additional ‘site preliminaries’ will be payable to the main contractor as a result of the extension of the construction contract.”

Photo of sign at Ripon Swimming Pool

Last week, senior councillors on the authority’s cabinet approved additional spending on the scheme estimated to cost £110,000.

This is required to investigate a ‘void in the ground’ and is necessary in order to retain the council’s business insurance on the building.

The ‘void’ was discovered last year near the entrance to the leisure centre.

The centre is being refurbished and will be attached to the new six-lane pool.

Responding to a second FOI request in March, the council said:

“The information you request is not held by Harrogate Borough Council because the final costs are not yet known.”

Now, after conducting an internal review of the FOI responses, Joanne Barclay the council’s acting chief solicitor (corporate services) said:

“I have reviewed this matter and I consider that the council met its obligation under regulation 5(1) at the time of its response to you and confirmed that the information you requested was not held.

“The Council provided a reason for this by confirming that the final costs were not yet known.”

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Discovery of the ‘void’ follows a separate incident in February 2018, when a sinkhole opened up on the leisure centre car park.

At a June 2019 planning meeting, three members of the eight-member committee abstained rather than support the project, after ‘deep concerns’ were expressed about the sinkhole risk in an area of Ripon known for widespread gypsum deposits.

In November of that year, construction company Willmott Dixon, was awarded a £10.2 million contract for delivery of the swimming pool/leisure centre scheme.

The 17-month contract had a completion date of 21 May 2021.

Last November, Councillor Stanley Lumley, cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, said the project had been ‘slightly delayed’ by covid.

In a press release dated November 13, he added:

“Ground work, known as grouting, is nearing completion.”

Grouting is a method used to stabilise unstable ground.

In our FOI requests, we enquired about the additional costs involved in extension of the contract with Willmott Dixon.

We also asked what proportion of additional cost has arisen through the need for extra ground remediation works.

To date, the council has been unable to answer either of these questions

In its response to our first FOI request, it stated:

“A public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest.”


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