New Leisure Centre For Ely One Step Closer

PUBLISHED: 17:17 04 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 04 May 2010

Designed by Helen Drake

Designed by Helen Drake

ELY is a step closer to building a state-of-the-art leisure complex to replace the Paradise Centre after plans for a £12 million project were agreed this week. Financial backers are now being sought to help design and build the landmark project, which is

ELY is a step closer to building a state-of-the-art leisure complex to replace the Paradise Centre after plans for a £12 million project were agreed this week.

Financial backers are now being sought to help design and build the landmark project, which is still scheduled for completion in early 2012, despite fears that the credit crunch could hamper progress.

The leisure centre will be incorporated with existing facilities at the Ely Outdoor Sports Association on Downham Road, and will replace ageing facilities at the Leisure Connection-managed Paradise Centre, which costs the district council more than £200,000 a year to maintain.

Features of the new Downham Road centre will include an eight-lane competition swimming pool, a health suite and a six-court sports hall, and, although the council hopes that the running costs of the completed facility will not have to be met by users, the possibility of a charge has not been ruled out.

Concerns have also arisen about the willingness of credit-crunch hit private investors to bid for the project, since leisure facilities are widely considered expensive, high risk ventures in the current economic climate.

Bids for the project alone would cost private companies around £200,000 and ECDC is looking for two management companies to build and then run the project.

Questions have also surfaced over the gap in available facilities which may arise when the contract for the Paradise Centre runs out in 2010. The council is yet to decide whether it will extend its contract at the centre to meet the gap with the proposed new facility not being scheduled for completion until the start of 2012.

Cllr Bill Hunt, said: "There is still a long way to go and a few issues to iron out but I am optimistic that we will be able to build a 21st Century facility for everybody in the district to enjoy."

Leisure Facilities Working Party chairman, James Palmer, said: "People in the district have been waiting a long time for a decent facility and I am very positive that we will have something built and ready for our target opening in 2012.

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