Staffordshire County Council has agreed to transfer ownership of the former Kidsgrove Sport Centre building to Newcastle Borough Council.
The site was owned by the County Council and ran by the Borough Council, when it was closed in June 2017, due to rising maintenance costs.
After concerns from locals about leisure provision in the area, Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group was set up as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), and has been working with the Borough Council to develop proposals for volunteers to reopen the site.
Yesterday (7 November), members of the County Council’s Property Sub-Committee meeting unanimously decided to transfer the building to the borough council, together with a contribution of £363,000 towards the cost of demolition.
But if the building is not used for leisure services within 12 months or is sold, the money for demolition would need to be repaid back to the authority.
Leader of Staffordshire County Council and property committee chair Philip Atkins said: “This is not a donation or an investment in leisure services, as these come under the remit of Newcastle Borough Council.
"I hope that Newcastle and the community interest group will be able to make a success of Kidsgrove Leisure Centre, but we must safeguard the money we are transferring if for any reason this does not happen.
"I wholeheartedly support the community interest group, and genuinely hope that they can soon realise their vision of providing community-led, dry-side facilities to the people of Kidsgrove.”
The Sports Centre was closed in June 2017
Borough Council leader, Simon Tagg, said: “We really welcome this decision from the county council and we know the people of Kidsgrove will too. It means that we can now make decisions and move ahead on this very important project.
“The onus will now be on the community group to make a success of this and we will be setting up a meeting between all parties to discuss next steps as soon as possible.
“There is still a lot to do but, for now, we can reassure them that we will give them our full support in the months to come in getting the centre up and running again.”
Together with the £300,000 contribution previously agreed by the Borough Council, there are now funds available for the refurbishment of the dry side of the sports centre in excess of the amount originally sought by the CIO.
Mark Clews, Chairman of Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group, added: “This is the best news we could have hoped for at this stage. The people of Kidsgrove have really missed the centre; it has been a great loss to the community.
“Looking forward now, I’m positive and excited about what we as a community can achieve. With the support of the Borough Council we will be setting about getting the centre open for the community as soon as possible.”