AFTER months of delay, a controversial £1.6m leisure centre could be set to open soon.
The keys to a new leisure centre in Desborough have been handed over to Kettering Borough Council, which is now putting equipment in the building ahead of a provisional opening date in three or four weeks.
But the centre, in Ironwood Avenue, has courted controversy as it will mean the town’s existing sports hall at The Hawthorns, which is also owned by the council, will close.
Cllr Steve Bellamy, portfolio holder for leisure at the council, said: “People will soon have the most modern and purpose-built sports centre in the whole of the Kettering borough.
“I know that the local residents have been watching this new centre being built with great interest.
“I am very pleased that it now belongs to the council and so it won’t be long until people can start to use this fantastic new facility.”
The new centre has a large sports hall, a fitness centre and multi-use games area.
Adjacent to the building is a children’s play area, a BMX and skate area and green space.
The play area will be opened over the next few days after routine checks.
The new centre was initially scheduled to open at the end of last year, but a hold-up over paperwork resulted in the building standing empty for several months after completion.
The old centre at The Hawthorns will close when the new centre opens.
Residents had protested at plans to close the existing centre, and Desborough Community Development Trust launched a bid to take over the Hawthorns facility but this was turned down by the council last year.
This was despite a petition with 3,600 signatures on it in favour of the centre staying open.
There will be a drop-in weekend in May to give members of the public a first chance to take a look at what the new facility offers.
A date for this drop-in session will be announced in the coming weeks.
Valerie Hitchman, head of community services at the borough council, said: “Kettering Council thanks all who have inquired about the new centre and encourage local residents to take a look around the centre when we have the ‘drop in’ opening weekend.”