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Salt Ayre plans pass the first stage

John Freeman
There's a new look for Salt Ayre Sports Centre ahead. Image supplied for illustrative purposes only. Image © Createability
Proposals for a multi-million pound redevelopment of Salt Ayre Sports Centre have passed the first stage.

On Tuesday (19th January) Lancaster City Council’s cabinet unanimously supported the plans, which will now go to Full Council on Wednesday 2nd March for final approval.

The aim of the project is to invest and improve facilities at Salt Ayre to make it a ‘community hub’ providing accessible sport and leisure facilities to the local community.

Facilities would include a fitness suite, multi-functional training space, high ropes course, adventure play, BMX track, outdoor fitness equipment and a new spa facility. The reception area and café facilities will also be refurbished.

Image supplied for illustrative purposes only. Image © Createability
Image supplied for illustrative purposes only. Image © Createability
The £5 million scheme would be delivered over five years starting in April 2016, subject to approval from Full Council.

Money to finance the scheme would have to be borrowed, but the costs would be more than offset by increased income and reduced costs.

The investment would be paid back within 12 years and without it the centre would continue to need a subsidy to stay open.

Image supplied for illustrative purposes only. Image © Createability
Councillor Darren Clifford, Cabinet member with responsibility for sport and leisure, said: “Salt Ayre Sports Centre is a very well used public facility, but it could be so much more.

“If we go ahead with this project it gives us the opportunity to not only create a premier sport and leisure facility but, ultimately, reduce the amount it costs to run.

“Given the huge amounts of money the council has to save over the next few years it’s incumbent on us to drive costs down and while we will need to borrow money upfront, investing now will save money in the long term.

“If we don’t go ahead then costs will continue to rise and we might face the possibility in the very near future of looking at whether we can afford to keep the centre open.

"The project will provide facilities much more in keeping with demand and enable many more people of all ages and abilities to enjoy leading a healthy lifestyle.”

Cabinet members heard that only investing in essential planned capital improvements or repairs as opposed to any wider refurbishment would lead to a general decline in the quality of the facilities on offer.

Without investment, the Council fears it is likely that gym memberships will decline further over the next few years and there would be a continued reduction in sports hall occupancy and sauna use.

• February 2017 update: All images featured are courtesy Createability and are the  designs submitted for the project. The final designs used were the work of Karen Bignell of Bignell Shacklady Ewing