THE sites at St Columba's and Woodmill have been backed as a possible location for a new leisure centre for Dunfermline.

Fife Council have been asked to look into a facility for the city and with both high schools relocating to Halbeath next summer, the land they currently occupy will become vacant.

Conservative councillor Gavin Ellis said: "Those sites, from my point of view, would be ideal and would still be in easy reach of people in south and west Fife.

"That would be my preferred option but we'll have to see what the officers come back with."

Cllr Ellis started the ball rolling with a motion last week highlighting ongoing capacity and maintenance issues with the Carnegie Leisure Centre and the need for a new leisure centre for a growing city.

Dunfermline Press: Maintenance issues at Carnegie Leisure Centre is one of the reasons behind calls for a new sports and leisure centre in Dunfermline.Maintenance issues at Carnegie Leisure Centre is one of the reasons behind calls for a new sports and leisure centre in Dunfermline.

His call for council officers to carry out a feasibility study, to investigate the potential cost and look at possible locations, was backed at the City of Dunfermline area committee.

SNP councillor Derek Glen wants Scotland's newest city to think big: "If it's only a new leisure centre with a pool that may be a missed opportunity, particularly when the population continues to grow.

"The estimated cost would entirely depend on what the spec was. If it's just a pool that's a big difference from an all singing and all dancing leisure centre.

"We should err on the side of being ambitious."

Committee convener, Lib Dem councillor James Calder, agreed: "The school sites are definitely an interesting possibility to investigate.

"The Abbeyview community and local businesses are very concerned about the loss of the schools as there will be a big reduction in footfall.

"I think it would be nice if we can replace one type of community facility, such as the schools, with another kind of community facility that brings people in.

"It's an easy location to access and it's on the bus routes so it's definitely something that should be considered as, at the moment, there are no definite plans for the sites.

"From my point of view I hope the Labour administration take this seriously and I'll be raising it whenever I have discussions with them.

"As Dunfermline develops as a city we need to make sure it has the facilities it deserves."

Dunfermline Press: As well as a swimming pool, Woodmill has the only artificial pitch in West Fife suitable for hockey.As well as a swimming pool, Woodmill has the only artificial pitch in West Fife suitable for hockey. (Image: NQ Staff)

When the Dunfermline Learning Campus opens in August 2024, the current high school sites either side of Woodmill Road will no longer be needed.

The council haven't said what they plan to do with the sites but Woodmill does have a pool – the new campus will not have one – which is currently used for swimming lessons.

Not replacing it would only create further problems for Carnegie, where there are already waiting lists for lessons of up to 18 months.

Woodmill also has the only artificial pitch in West Fife that's suitable for hockey, and it's been suggested before that keeping these facilities, and using the swathes of grass pitches next to it, could form the basis of a sports hub and leisure centre.

READ MORE: 'Dunfermline deserves a new world class leisure facility'

Cllr Glen said: "The school sites have got parking, lots of green space, existing buildings that could be developed or replaced and, as it stands, I don't think Fife Council have anything special earmarked for it.

"It would be a shame for them to inevitably be sold for housing or, even worse, left derelict while people twiddle their thumbs and think what to do with them."

As of now there is no budget or even an agreement that Dunfermline will get a new leisure centre, while the potential costs are likely to be prohibitive for Fife Council, which has already committed capital funds to existing projects.

There would have to be a change of use to allow development to go ahead on the school sites but if it's not used for a new sports and leisure facility, what could it be used for?

Selling off the land for housing may create problems as they've only recently agreed to change the primary school catchments of Carnegie and Touch, due to the amount of housebuilding in the area.

Further development would only add to the pressure on those school rolls.

More housing would mean more cars on the busy Linburn Road while the council are already trying to find solutions to the volume of traffic moving through the nearby junctions of Linburn Road / Halbeath Road / Whitefield Road.

Cllr Ellis said: "You can't go sticking another 400, 500, 600 houses on those sites, especially when you've already got additional housing being built there."

Would the council demolish the buildings and leave as open space or a new parkland?

Could it be used for employment, a new health centre or retail development?

It's not yet clear what the council intend to do.

Cllr Calder added: "There are a few things to consider. We've had various problems at the Carnegie Leisure Centre over the last few years, obviously that's costly to maintain when there are so many issues, and the problems of capacity are at risk of becoming extremely acute.

"Dunfermline's population continues to expand so it's an important first step that we get this feasibility study.

"That will allow us to know the cost and what funding we need to put aside or try and find and it will hopefully identify where we can put it."

Fife Council leader David Ross acknowledged it was a "complex issue" but added it was "too early" to comment.

He said a report outlining the request from the area committee for a feasibility study should come to the cabinet committee on June 1.