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Listed Coventry sports centre faces demolition

A pivotal post-war structure in Coventry is in grave danger of demolition due to council modernisation plans, it has emerged.

According to Coventry City Council, the Grade II-listed Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre, built in 1966, is riddled with design flaws and asbestos.

Lucy Hobbs, who is working on the council team which is considering the centre's future, said: 'The building is beginning to reach the stage where it needs major work done. It still has asbestos and has huge south-facing windows which cause the centre to get very hot in the summer and lose a lot of heat in the winter.

According to Hobbs, £3 million of repairs are needed to keep the centre, designed by the council's in-house architecture department, running in the short term.

She continued: 'The council is currently considering its options regarding whether it can bring the centre up to 21st century standards.'

The council has approached central government to use the PFI procurement process to obtain a new sports centre, with the government due to make its decision in October.

Coventry council is set to make a decision early next year regarding the centre's future - after considering the results of a new report by Alan Baxter & Associates - but conservation commentators are not hopeful for the centre's future.

The Twentieth Century Society has raised concerns that planning policy guideline PPG15 could be used to allow the demolition of the building. Part of the policy states that a building does not need to be de-listed before demolition if its replacement is for the 'public good'.

This precedent is providing an increasing threat to other 20th century structures around the country, such as the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace (AJ 16.08.05).

by Rob Sharp

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