Bid to save Rhyl Sun Centre comes to nothing as Denbighsire Council seeks private investment for town's leisure facilities


Staff reporter (Rhyl Journal)

A LAST ditch bid to save the Sun Centre as a wet leisure facility has 'come to nothing'.

Council chiefs have said an expression of interest by Mo Chaudry, who owns Stoke’s indoor aqua park WaterWorld, will not come to fruition.

The news comes as Denbighshire Council has said it is looking for a private development partner to invest millions of pounds into all of the council's land and properties from Marine Lake to Splash Point, with the main focus remaining an aquatic centre to replace the Sun Centre.

One development partner is being sought for all the facilities, although this could be a consortium.

Council leaders have said private funding is 'better' for the long term future of Rhyl with the continued uncertainty over local government budgets.

Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, leader of Denbighshire Council, said: "Our partner will need to share our vision for a renewed and regenerated Rhyl which not only provides first class facilities for the local population, but once again becomes a premier destination for visitors to the North Wales coast.

"The regeneration of Rhyl is a priority for the council and the investment of recent years has really begun to change the way Rhyl looks, feels and functions.

"People are speaking positively about the town, not just in terms of the changes that have been made, but about its prospects for the future."

Plans for a new £10million aquatic centre were first announced in January lat year, but so far no progress has been made.

Cllr Huw Jones, cabinet lead member for Leisure, said: "We want a scheme that is deliverable and will play a significant role in regenerating the town through providing a range of excellent new leisure facilities.

"This would help create new jobs and business opportunities.

"We have got major aspirations for the coast, including a new Aquatic Centre to renew the leisure offer along the seafront.

"There is scope to bring the Skytower back to use and we have facilities at the Children's Village (including an underground car park) that could form part of any development brief."

Under previous plans Denbighshire Council said a new aquatic centre could see the pool at Rhyl Leisure Centre closed, and that option has not been ruled out even if the new centre is built through private funding.

Rebecca Maxwell, corporate director for the council, said: "The Rhyl Leisure Centre pool will be part of the mix. We want to offer good leisure and visitor facilities.

"We had two expression of interest, both for interest in the Sun Centre, short term, one of which came to nothing. The other we are still perusing is for using the Sun Centre as a dry facility, short term."

Speaking about the plan to regenerate facilities with private investment, she said: "We have a reasonable degree of confidence that this is an approach that can work.

"This is about the long term future.

"We think it is better for the long term future of Rhyl if it is privately funded."

Cllr Evans added: "There have been a number of high profile regeneration schemes, including the redevelopment of Rhyl Harbour, a major refurbishment of the Vue Cinema, the redevelopment of the bus station and the creation of a new green space in West Rhyl.

"There are also exciting plans in the pipeline, including plans for a 70 bed Premier Inn Hotel and associated restaurant.

"There has been an unprecedented number of investment enquiries, which demonstrates developers' increasing confidence in Rhyl as a place to invest."

Cllr Jones added: "There are a number of facilities that also exist along the seafront which could be considered in any proposals, including the Sun Centre, Pavilion Theatre, Events Arena, Marine Lake, bowling greens and various car parks.

"This is an exciting step forward in making our vision for leisure along the coast become a reality."

Developers have until August 8 to register their interest and council bosses hope a partner can be chosen early in the new year.

A Denbighshire Council spokesman: "The council has advertised for a development partner to develop the leisure offer and is willing to consider any proposals involving any of its land and properties in an area from Marine Lake, along the promenade to Splash Point.

"Any partner developer interested in delivering projects would be expected to secure private finance, but the Council would work closely with them to explore funding from other sources."

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