South Ayrshire Council has revealed that it only looked into the possibility of keeping the Citadel leisure centre after it had agreed to buy Hourstons and the Arran Mall for a new complex.

For the first time, the council has also stated publicly that refurbishing the Citadel would have cost £22.7m. The current cost of the new leisure centre stands around £45m.

The figure was part of an ‘outline business case’ set out in early 2020.

By that stage the council had already made clear its wish to make the Hourston’s and Arran Mall sites the location of the centre, having agreed to purchase the former department store in September 2019 and make a conditional purchase of the mall three months later.

In a report to councillors earlier this year, it was stated that a scoping exercise was carried out in early 2020.

Six design teams were invited to “submit proposals to demonstrate their experience of similar types of projects, their financial robustness, resourcing/ programme, proposed fee and how they would develop the brief.”

LA Architects, responsible for designing a similar town centre venue in Irvine, was selected.

A spokesperson for South Ayrshire Council said that an outline business case was set up to compare three options – keeping the Citadel with basic maintenance, refurbishing the Citadel, and the council’s stated aim of making a leisure centre a key part of the town centre’s regeneration.

At the time the town centre plan still retained a main hall.

A breakdown in costs for the refurbishment of the Citadel was set out in the business case. Like the new centre plans, this would have risen due to the additional costs around supply of materials.

Construction Costs:

  • Site levelling/ Clearance/ Strip out/ down takings £1.25m
  • Façade and roof £4.52m
  • Partitions, doors etc. £2m
  • Finishes, and fixed FF&E £1.12m
  • Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing £3.92m
  • Specialist e.g. sprung floors, pool, sauna £4.6m
  • Hard landscaping including fencing £160,020
  • Sub-Total £17.57m
  • Preliminaries £2.1m
  • Fees & Surveys £2.1m

Profit £980,520

Construction Total £22.76m

The decision to look at a town centre site for the leisure centre followed a 2018 consultation on the town’s future.

In a 2019 report the council said that less than half of consultation respondents never used the Citadel and a similar number wanted it to be refurbished.

Around a third said they would use a leisure centre in the town centre more often.

The report continued: “Recognising the age and condition of the Citadel Leisure Centre, and the public views on the matter, the council is now keen to replace it with a new leisure facility closer to the town centre.”

The Citadel swimming pool opened in the early 1970s, and was upgraded following and extension and refurbishment in 1997, becoming the Citadel Leisure centre.