Popular Exeter swimming pool to reopen four years after major fire

The swimming pool has been closed since February 2017. Credit: Exeter City Council

The swimming pool at Exeter’s Riverside Leisure Centre is set to reopen this summer more than four years after a fire broke out, councillors have been told.

Although the gym and sports halls were able to reopen shortly after the fire in February 2017, the normally busy pool has remained closed.

While the fire damage was being repaired, serious structural weaknesses unrelated to the fire were uncovered meaning the building was unsafe.

Cllr Duncan Wood, lead councillor for leisure and physical activity, said: "No-one could have predicted that the pool and health facilities would have remained closed for so long following the fire in 2017.

"It has been a very frustrating time for everyone and I am grateful for the patience people have shown while this crucial work has been taking place."

I really can’t wait for the pool to reopen in the summer, all things being well and subject to any further disruption caused by Covid. It remains a major asset to the city, and alongside St Sidwell’s Point, which is also expected to open this summer, it will be a major boost to our leisure facilities.

Cllr Duncan Wood

Project managers working on site say excellent progress has been made and a new steam room, sauna and spa pool being fitted in the coming weeks.

The fire broke out at the centre on February 21 2017.  In total, 120 firefighters, 17 fire engines and aerial appliances battled an 'aggressive' fire throughout the night, which tore through the sauna and the swimming pool.

Promises were made by the council that it would be back up and running in early 2019, but they were later forced to admit it would not happen until much later, after major structural weaknesses at the building were discovered.

The rebuild figure was between £15m to £20m, with additional costs for demolition, and the estimated total cost of the refurbishment was £8.4m, councillors in 2020 were told.

Credit: Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporter.

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