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A LEISURE centre could finally be open for business after two local entrepreneurs took on the long-awaited project.

The Thorpe Bay businessmen behind the successful redevelopment of the Gunnery Drill Shed plan to re-open the former barracks in Horseshoe Crescent on the Shoebury Garrison estate as an upmarket swimming pool, gym and spa.

The facility had been mothballed after garrison developer Gladedale finished it eight years ago.

But Ian Homan and Peter Thompson, of B2C Holdings, aim to welcome their first guests to the Garrison Spa by Easter.

Since buying the facility last year, the pair, who run water sports clothing business Wet Suit Outlet from the Gunnery Drill Shed in Chapel Road, have pumped money into the project. Mr Holman, 46, said: “We saw the spa was up for sale. We have got a passion for old buildings, so we have spent the last few months renovating it to get it ready.

“Come Easter we could be able to open it to garrison residents.”

Gladedale, the predecessor to garrison developer Country and Metropolitan, kitted out the building, but after eight years of lying dormant B2C Holdings have had to strip down and service the plant room to ensure the heating and air condition functions perfectly.

Damp meant the building needed new insulation, replastering and repainting.

Mr Holman, who was busy supervising the installation of new fitness equipment yesterday, said: “It needed a massive amount of work. Even though it had never been used, it has cost a considerable amount of cash.”

Gladedale promised garrison residents “village-style” living with facilities on their doorstep when it got the green light to redevelop the former MoD site in 2004.

Sainsbury’s opened a “Local” convenience-storestyle supermarket in New Garrison Road last year – the first on the estate.