‘Multiple cracks’ detected at Ripon leisure centre
Last updated Oct 30, 2023
Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre.

An investigation into movements at the Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre in Ripon has discovered multiple cracks up to 10mm long.

A £3.5 million scheme to stabilise the site began in June following the discovery of a “void” in the sinkhole-prone area. It brought the cost of the leisure centre to £18 million — £8 million above budget.

The work, which was due to end in spring, was paused this month when land movements were detected.

North Yorkshire Council, which owns the site, said on Friday its checks had revealed cracks have appeared.

It said the cracks have affected the “weathertightness of the building and the operation of doors and windows” but added specialists had said there were no safety concerns.

Nevertheless, the estimated completion date and project costs are now “under review”.

Work at the site.

It means members will continue to use a temporary gym in the car park and attend group classes at Hugh Ripley Hall in the city centre indefinitely.

The new building, which includes the swimming pool, sauna and steam room, has remained open throughout.

Damage mainly ‘aesthetic’

The council said in a statement on Friday:

“Following the site inspection of the original section of Ripon sports centre on Friday, September 15 by a technical specialist it was observed that in general, the degree of damage that has occurred to the building since the original inspection last year as a result of the compaction grouting operations would be classified as aesthetic.

“The exception to this was the ground floor internal wall near to the main ground floor entrance at the north end of the building.

“Here there are multiple cracks up to 10mm wide which are classed as serviceability issues, affecting the weathertightness of the building and the operation of doors and windows.”

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The statement added:

“Specialists have confirmed that none of the cracking observed during the site visit would be cause for concern from a safety point of view.

“The building is currently weathertight and cracks will be assessed at the end of the project and appropriate repairs made.

“A system of level monitoring has been installed within the building so that it can be monitored for movement and grouting adjusted or stopped when certain movements are reached.”

Grouting work resumed at the site on October 13. Asked whether the latest issues had affected the completion date or cost of the project, the council said:

“The estimated completion date and project costs are currently under review.”

‘Far from ideal’ situation

Cllr Andrew Williams, a member of the Conservative and Independents group at North Yorkshire Council and the leader of Ripon City Council, said last year it was time to stop “throwing good money after bad” and to “look for a suitable location for a new leisure centre to be built on sound land”.

Asked about the discovery of cracks, he said:

“The building is under very close monitoring to ensure that there is no movement as the works progress, if there is movement then the position will have to be reviewed in the light of that information.

“The situation is far from ideal and I hope that it will prove possible to complete these works because the bottom line is that Ripon needs a functioning leisure centre.”

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