Council agrees £500,000 spend on new Ely leisure centre development - but it will be April before £13.6millon project gets ‘signed off’

How the proposed leisure centre at Ely could look.

How the proposed leisure centre at Ely could look. - Credit: Archant

Councillors will not finally decide until April whether to commit to a £13.658 million new leisure centre for Ely – but have agreed £500,000 to progress it.

How the proposed Ely leisure centre could look.

How the proposed Ely leisure centre could look. - Credit: Archant

East Cambs Council will only give the project the green light once they are sure of how much it will cost to build.

They accepted a recommendation from finance chief Linda Grinnell that “the council does not make a decision to commit the full capital cost for the leisure centre until the outcome of the construction procurement are known (April 2016)”

But they also agreed with her recommendation that “to maintain the project’s momentum and enable the procurements to commence, a further release of funding is necessary”.

The leisure centre is being funded through a combination of borrowing, capital receipts, Community Infrastructure Levy, (developer payments) and the New Homes Bonus. Ms Grinnell says that £500,000 needed now will come from the funds held by the council through the New Homes Bonus.

Councillors were assured, however, that external consultants had given assurance of “sufficient confident” that the leisure centre can be built within “affordability levels previously considered by members”.

It was also agreed that both tenders would be sought both for the construction of the leisure centre and for its operators at the same time.

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“Early engagement with the market- and early appointment of the two contractors- will enable the operator to influence aspects of the build, and thus increase profitability and the income paid to the council,” said Ms Grinnell.

In June the council’s commercial services committee heard how a public exhibition and consultation had found the priority (two thirds of people) wanted the centre to have an eight lane swimming pool. Spectator sitting was also considered essential.

Among the low priorities were a learner pool, activity studios, and a floodlit artificial grass pitch.