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Homes hope for vandal-hit Oswestry leisure centre site

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A disused Oswestry leisure centre which has become an eyesore and a target for vandals is set for redevelopment after a housing company confirmed it is looking to build on the site.

The disused centre in College Road closed in 2011 when it was replaced with a new leisure centre a short distance away.

Wrekin Housing Trust has now confirmed it is looking to develop the site, although plans are still in the early stages.

It is not yet known how many homes could be built.

Jean Teichmann, head of development at the trust, said: "This is a difficult time for housing providers but we're bucking the trend by continuing with ambitious housebuilding plans for the area, providing very much-needed, quality, affordable homes for local people."

Councillor Peter Cherrington, Oswestry's mayor, said: "I'm very excited. It got to the point where it was almost becoming a danger to itself.

"For any organisation to go in and use the brownfield site to bring more housing to the area is good news."

"Hopefully it will provide some affordable housing, which will be good for young couples just starting out and those who have found it hard to buy their own homes.

"It will take away an eyesore and improves the quality of life for local residents."

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It is one of a number of schemes being worked on by the company over the next year, including in Unicorn Road, Oswestry; the coal yard site next to Gobowen Railway Station, which will provide 22 new homes; the second phase of housing at Bower Farm in St Martins, providing 19 homes; and the regeneration of an area on Bridgewater Street next to Tesco in Whitchurch which, once complete, will bring 10 affordable homes to the area.

The trust has also started work on three extra care schemes which will provide 215 apartments for those over 55, with help on hand when needed. These homes will be provided at Ellesmere Road in Shrewsbury, Holyhead Road in Bicton and Alexandra Road in Oswestry, all due to be complete early in 2017.

The 35-year-old leisure centre in College Road was supposed to last just 25 years after it was built in 1976, but stayed open for an extra decade.

It was sold by Shropshire Council after it closed and the site was put forward as potential land for a new housing development.

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Since closing, the site has been plagued by problems including fires, break-ins and fly tipping. In 2012 it was claimed the site had become a haven for fly-tippers, with people dumping waste and bin bags at the site and reports of nearby fencing being ripped down.

Police warned people to stay away from the site in 2014 amid rumours that the building had been used by people sleeping rough or by children playing. Arsonists were blamed for a fire in the building after rubbish was set alight, causing smoke damage.

And last year parents were asked to warn their children about the dangers of playing in empty buildings after a number of incidents in which children were found inside the old centre.

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