Claims of overcrowding at new £35m leisure centre in Craigavon lead to calls for derelict centre in Portadown to reopen

Claims of overcrowding at the new £35m leisure centre in Craigavon has led to a petition calling for the renovation and reopening of derelict Portadown leisure centre Cascades.

Cascades Leisure Centre was closed in August 2020 following the opening of the new South Lakes Leisure Centre in Craigavon. Waves Leisure Centre in Lurgan was also closed and later demolished. Brownlow Leisure Centre in Craigavon was also shut.


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Cascades Leisure Centre in Portadown Co Armagh. PT21-238 Cascades


The closure of all three leisure centres at the same time as reopening as the new leisure came in for criticism at that time but Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council said the new state of the art leisure facility would be sufficient.

Despite this there has been constant rows over the use of the pool facilities in particular with several clubs as well as schools using new facility on a daily basis.

Many swimmers have voiced concern they have been unable to use the pool facilities or find it difficult to make bookings on the online system.

Cascades Leisure Centre in Portadown Co Armagh. PT21-240 Cascades

The petition was started by Cadhan Litter who said: “Cascades Portadown is laying in a state of rat, while South Lake Leisure Centre does not cater for everyone. A good swimming pool lying to waste when swimming clubs and the general public could benefit from Cascades still being opened. There is enough business for both to remain.”

He asked: “Please sign my petition to make the council at least consider the re-opening of cascades.”

One woman said: “I would love cascades to reopen - it is sorely missed in all surrounding areas. In these days of financial difficulty it would provide both adults and children with access to vital exercises at a price families can afford. The cafe and gym facilities were very popular to all. Give us a chance to share the facilities offered at cascades with our families.

Another woman said: “We need a local access’s order swimming pool for all. For people who can’t travel. For younger kids who don’t need a bus fare to get for a swim. For swimming clubs and for general public. For more swims in the borough when the new pool is not fit to carry 3 towns. For bringing business into towns and not out of towns.

Cascades Leisure Centre in Portadown Co Armagh. PT21-239 Cascades

One man said: “Best old pool in the country bar none! A proper 13’ deep end with 1m, 3m & 5m diving boards, a ~300 seat spectator gallery and it was the last remaining and finest example of a 33m pool on the island of Ireland, plus it has a great separate learner pool.”

Another woman said: “This beautiful spacious building is worthy of renovation and a second life. Having such a town center gem within walking distance is essential to meet the continuing need for aquatic facilities, active lifestyles for a healthy growing population and vibrant swimming community. This center has accomplished this task for many years and will definitely function for the welfare of society.

Another said: “Closing three centres into one has made the new South Lake Leisure Centre over crowded and difficult to access facilities.”

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council has been approached for comment.