Sun sets on Rhyl's Sun Centre


Matt Jones

RHYL’S flagship Sun Centre attraction has come to the end of its life.

The 32-year-old leisure complex would prove too costly to re-open after Denbighshire Council regained control of the facility, council bosses have said.

The Prestatyn Nova will remain closed until a refurbishment is completed in 2015, while the North Wales Bowls Centre could reopen within a matter of weeks.

The recommendations for the future of the three sites are set to be approved on March 25 by Denbighshire Council’s Cabinet.

However, the Sun Centre could be turned into a dry leisure facility with two expressions of interest from firms looking to create an indoor adventure activity at the site which would mean current plans to demolish the site could be scrapped.

Rebecca Maxwell, the council’s corporate director for Economic and Community Ambition, said: “We have given serious consideration to all the options available to us before making the recommendations.

“The cost and risk of operating the facilities at the Sun Centre have been deciding factors in the recommendation not to re-open the attraction.

“We believe the financial risks associated with re-opening the Sun Centre are too great, as a lot of investment would be needed for urgent or imminent works.
“The kind of investment in question would be beyond the council’s means.

“We also feel it would not make economic sense to re-open the Nova in terms of running the facility in the short term when there are plans for complete refurbishment works in the longer term.

“If we were talking about losses of maybe £10,000 or £20,000 per facility a year that might be something we could consider.

“When you’re looking at operating losses were estimating for both the Nova and Sun Centre combined, in the first year it is close to £500,000.”

Clwyd Leisure, the non-for-profit company which ran the three attractions cased trading earlier this year.

Work on the refurbishment of the Nova could start in the autumn and it could reopen in the second half of 2015.

Visitors to the Sun Centre have fallen from 120,000 to just under 50,000 last year.

Jamie Groves, Denbighshire Council’s, head of Communication, Marketing and Leisure, said the council would be looking to hold more events in the town this year in bid to attract tourists.

He said: “We are already working on some exciting programmes for 2014 and beyond. Everyone can see the benefit of Rhyl Air Show and Prom on the Proms which bring a vast amount of visitors to the town.

“There is clearly a big economic impact.”

He added: “If we look at the declining visitor numbers to the Sun Centre, clearly those who have been visiting the Sun Centre are not returning.

“The Sun Centre is not pulling in people like it used to.

“The biggest footfall in recent years for Rhyl has been the events. The Air Show accounted for 130,000 people over two days.”

nSee page 10 for your views on the closure of the Sun Centre.

Chris Ruane MP for Vale of Clwyd, said: “I know many people in Rhyl and beyond will be hugely disappointed with this decision regarding the Sun Centre and Nova.

“Over the years thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of people have spent many happy hours in the Sun Centre and to hear that there will no longer be ‘waves in the main pool’ is sad to say the least.

“I would hope that Denbighshire Council is now pursuing alternative uses of the building as an urgent priority as it cannot be left to stand idle, as the impact and perception on Rhyl has to be taken into account.

“We have to remember there are people who have lost their jobs and other businesses who previously benefited from the visitors the Sun Centre brought into the town will be affected.

“We have many improvements taking place in Rhyl and Ann Jones AM and I are constantly looking at ways in which we can increase the leisure offer in the town by branching out with cycling, the Marine Lake activities, kite surfing and other activities – whatever is placed in the Sun Centre could and should compliment this.

“Meanwhile the Nova should be reopened as soon as possible.

“Many, many people have contacted me regarding the loss of activities following its closure. “It was and is a much loved and used facility.”

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