After months of uncertainty, your District Council has officially unveiled an externally funded £175,000 open plan "changing village" at our Ashbourne Leisure Centre.
Deputy Chairman of the District of the Derbyshire Dales Councillor Albert Catt cut the ribbon on the open plan modernisation on Monday – six months after it was due to be launched.
An arson attack wreaked havoc at the centre at the end of July, the blaze hitting a plant room, including the pool's filtration units, and causing extensive smoke damage throughout the main pool hall and new changing village.
The pool reopened last week, together with the new changing facility, which was paid for with a grant from Sport England. Repairs and replacement work costing around £150,000 could only start after investigations by contractors and insurance assessors.
Speaking at Monday's ceremony, District Council, Leader Councillor Lewis Rose OBE paid tribute to the patience of users and the hard work of staff during a difficult few months.
"The blaze has caused many problems, not least a significant loss of income for the District Council," said Councillor Rose, "but everyone has worked tremendously hard to ensure that Ashbourne Leisure Centre is now in the best shape in its history and the envy of many other leisure facilities.
"We asked local people what improvements they would like to see and thanks to Sport England and invaluable help from Derbyshire Sport and the Amateur Swimming Association, I am delighted to say that we have delivered."
The District Council, which also operates leisure centres in Bakewell, Matlock and Wirksworth, has funded additional improvements to the energy efficiency of the building by providing new domestic hot and cold water services, new air handling plant, new low temperature heating circuits, improved control systems, new lighting and security upgrades.
Just before Christmas, an additional £60,000 external funding saw the creation of an extended accessible fitness suite at Ashbourne Leisure Centre.
The changing village modernisation programme has opened up an old reception area, offices and a network of narrow corridors to create a large open plan family-friendly changing village similar to the District Council's state-of-the-art facility at Arc Leisure Matlock.
There are separate family changing rooms, with improved access and changing facilities for disabled users, together with new showers and toilets.