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All four leisure centres across South Ribble saved from potential closure following a multi-million pound investment from the Council to transform each site

Bamber Bridge Leisure Centre

All four of South Ribble's leisure centres are set to undergo a major transformation as the local authority announced plans to overhaul its gyms, pools and sports halls.

Papers to be discussed by councillors after Easter will see a 'once in a generation' investment in the buildings that will transform the sites into state-of-the-art facilities.

Around £8 million is to be invested by the council alongside a significant amount of funding received to decarbonise the buildings. Total investment is set to be circa £13 million.

The move comes just a year after the authority took back control of the leisure centres from private operator Serco and builds on the council's ambitious plans for leisure to improve the health and quality of life for residents.

Mark Lester, Director of Commercial and Property at South Ribble Borough Council said: "This will be amazing news for the borough and one of the biggest investments this council will ever make in leisure.

"One of the benefits of us bringing the centres back in-house has been that greater control and flexibility to give residents what they want - it has been a challenging period in the leisure industry following the transition during Covid but we believe this will give us facilities that are the envy of others and encourage more people to get active.

"This investment will do two things - it will decarbonise our leisure centres and allow necessary upgrades to allow that to happen, which is really important as part of our target to become carbon neutral by 2030 - and a further phase of work will come forward in May that will outline plans for a complete transformation of the pools, changing areas, gym equipment, sports halls, flooring and exterior appearance. It is a game changer for us."

The major investment in the existing centres marks a move away from the idea of creating one brand new leisure centre, which the council says would have been unattainable with the soaring costs of construction and would have meant closing at least one of the centres in the local communities.

The improvements will also be based on feedback from residents who either use the centres or don't because of their condition, which has become tired under private sector management.

"The plans to create a new leisure centre is no longer viable or acceptable for our community and over the last 18 months we have revisited this and looked at a much more cost effective solution that will maintain all four centres in the communities they serve," Mark continued.

"If we look at the costs of building a new leisure centre some councils are looking at the best part of £40 million to provide the sort of facility people in our borough deserve. Thanks to our efforts on climate change we have been able to secure significant funding to decarbonise the centres, which puts us in a position where we can afford to completely refurbish the centres we have so they are just like new.

"If the plans are approved at council and we make the changes it will have a dual benefit for us because it will help support our residents to be healthier, which has been a real lesson from the pandemic, and I'm sure we'll increase usage that also means the council will benefit financially and allow us to invest in other areas that residents say are important to them."

Councillors will be asked to support an additional £775,000 of investment at the next Council meeting on top of the funding that the council has received to decarbonise all its buildings.

A further report with more wide-ranging proposals for the multi-million pound investment will come forward in May.

The decision will be taken at the full council meeting on Wednesday 20 April.

8 April 2022

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