Sand Centre auditorium, Cumberland Council, p Cumberland Council

The auditorium of the Events Centre at The Sands in Carlisle is the only part of the building with the lightweight concrete. Credit: via Cumberland Council

Cumberland expedites Sands revamp after RAAC found

Cumberland Council’s plans to upgrade The Sands Centre in Carlisle have been accelerated after the reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete was found in a survey of the 1980s auditorium. The lightweight concrete has a lifespan of 30 years.

With the RAAC revelation, Cumberland Council opted to close down the events centre, a standalone building that dates to the 1980s. The local authority is now evaluating preliminary designs for improvement works to that building, which were part of the second phase of the council’s redevelopment plan for the site.

The first phase of the £27m Sands project completed in November and consisted of a new-build 40,000 sq ft leisure centre. There are no RAAC-related issues with this newer facility, according to Cumberland Council Leader Cllr Mark Fryer.

Fryer said: “Although the new main Sands Centre building is unaffected, which includes the pools, gym, sports halls, café, bars and restaurant, the council has taken the decision to close the stand-alone events centre so that further assessments can be made of the older part of the building.

“The 1980s part of the building did not form part of the recent redevelopment work, operates separately from the redeveloped site and is self-contained,” he continued.

“The events centre building has been inspected on a regular basis in accordance with government guidelines and was compliant until the recent change in government guidance, in late August.”

Fryer went on to say that closing the events centre was not an easy decision.

“This is not a decision that Cumberland Council has taken lightly, and we apologise to anyone who has been impacted,” he said.

RAAC has been found in public buildings throughout the country. Its limited lifespan has led to delays for openings of multiple schools in the North West. The presence of RAAC was also one of the reasons the government signed on to reconstruct Leighton Hospital in Cheshire.

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