[C]ouncillors are being recommended to approve further studies to decide whether to go-ahead with an ambitious ‘masterplan’ to redevelop leisure facilities in Ulverston.
South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) commissioned a report last year to examine how leisure facilities on the council’s Priory Road site could potentially be re-modelled and improved to meet the future needs of the Ulverston area.
The facilities at Priory Road are run by North Country Leisure (NCL) on behalf of SLDC.
The final report by planning consultants FMG Consulting, which is being presented to SLDC’s Cabinet next week (20 July), explored the mix of facilities, what could be accommodated on the site, as well as likely costs of any scheme.
The study found that the site could be re-shaped, with the site described as having ‘great potential’ by Chartered Architects, GT Architects.
After considering the demand and supply of sports and leisure in the area the report identified six different options for the site, scoring them against factors such as operational viability, flood risk, site access and scope for additional community development.
The highest scoring option at this stage, which is being proposed as the basis for the masterplan, includes a centre-piece new leisure centre constructed on the site of the existing tennis centre, with facilities possibly including a new six-lane 25 metre swimming pool to replace the existing four-lane pool, new sports hall, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, fitness studios, grass outdoor pitches, artificial grass pitches, a bowling green and all new reception and changing facilities.
The report says the new facility would have ‘prospects of operating on a sustainable financial model, moving to a zero public subsidy’ and suggests an initial investment of £12m-£13m would be required.
Councillors at next week’s Cabinet meeting will be asked to approve a further phase of feasibility study work to include extensive public consultation and planning and financial considerations, including whether funding commitments from partners could be secured.
The council and NCL are working together on the masterplan, which has also been informed by GSK’s (GlaxoSmithKline’s) need to relocate its sports centre as part of possible future redevelopment plans of its site on North Lonsdale Road, Ulverston.
The council has had initial discussions with GSK about how the council and GSK could work together with other possible investment partners such as Sport England to maximise the benefits for Ulverston, ensuring existing GSK sports club users and the wider community have access to good quality facilities.
Currently the Priory Road site is home to a swimming pool, gym, tennis centre, a full-size artificial pitch, all-weather tennis courts and new 3G pitch, as well as grass pitches and associated parking areas.
The existing cricket pitch and clubhouse adjacent to the swimming pool is on land owned by SLDC but is separately leased and would not be affected by any redevelopment of the wider site.