Gateshead Leisure Centre set for June reopening after community handover plans agreed

Gateshead Leisure Centre has been closed since July 2023. Credit: Reach PLC

Gateshead Leisure Centre is set to reopen in June after plans to hand the asset over to a community-led organisation were reportedly agreed.

The centre was closed by Gateshead Council in July 2023 as part of budget cuts with locals campaigning for the venue to be saved.

The council has worked with community group Gateshead Active to help it reopen and now plans have been agreed.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) reports the group expect to take control of the building on 31 May and stage a grand reopening on Friday 14 June.

Gateshead Active director and former councillor Robert Waugh said: “To have finally got our plans approved by the council for the handover of the building is an enormous relief for us and the community. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back into the building.

“It will be 11 months of the leisure centre being closed by the time we open and it has been a big miss. We hope that people will see a big change in culture here and we really want to give people the best service possible.”

Locals, including TV historian David Olusoga, protested against the initial decision to close the leisure centre last year. Credit: LDRS

Mr Waugh said Gateshead Active would carry out some building work and staff training in the two weeks after getting the keys to the leisure centre.

A soft launch is pencilled in to start on June 10 where local groups will be invited to test the facilities before the full reopening.

The centre’s gym, pool, soft play, and climbing wall are all due to be open on 14 June while there are also hopes that a new virtual reality escape room will also be ready in time.

This month has also seen Gateshead Active secure £150,000 of funding from social investment organisation Keyfund to ensure the reopening plans can go ahead.

Membership packages are expected to go on sale in the next two weeks.

The Save Leisure Gateshead campaign, which led calls for the centre to stay open, said it hoped that the facility would now become a “thriving” community hub once again.

Campaigner Layla Barclay told the LDRS: “We have been watching Gateshead Active and the council very closely over the last year to 18 months and we are really delighted that it has come to this point where Gateshead Active will get the keys and there is an end in sight. Hopefully, in the near future we will see the leisure centre open again.

“It has been such a miss from so many different angles. So many people have stopped exercising, it has had huge mental health impacts, it has been a massive loss to the community.

“So we are really hoping that once it opens it will be sustainable – that people will start going and spending time there again.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...