New Leisure Centre For Ely

PUBLISHED: 19:16 13 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 04 May 2010

GIANT UK leisure management companies are keen to strike a partnership deal with council officers to bring a new £11.5 million leisure centre to Ely. Four out of five of the market leaders have been positive to the plan and would consider a future partner

GIANT UK leisure management companies are keen to strike a partnership deal with council officers to bring a new £11.5 million leisure centre to Ely.

Four out of five of the market leaders have been positive to the plan and would consider a future partnership.

One company will be selected to design and build the project and would receive a contract of up to 25 years to run the new centre which is expected to open in 2011.

East Cambridgeshire District Council officers received the feedback when they tested the market for the centre on council-owned land off the A10 near Downham Road.

The ambitious project will include an eight-lane competition swimming pool and separate teaching pool, six court sports hall and up to 100 health and fitness stations.

A commercial five-a-side football centre with up to six floodlit pitches which could be used by the community and a hotel/restaurant and even a cinema could also be built on the site.

A further £1.5 million could be spent integrating the nearby Ely Outdoor Sports Association facilities into the new development.

A new synthetic pitch, two new grass pitches and an integrated clubhouse could be provided.

John Hill, chief executive of East Cambridgeshire District Council said: "This is very positive. With the economic, commercial conditions we have to keep revisiting the market.

"It is not surprising that companies are interested in the project with the growing population of Ely. This development will make a difference and a prestigious statement.

"We have been looking at the real prospects for a partnership which could reduce, if not our capital costs, certainly the running costs. We have also been looking at other complementary uses of the site as it is big enough to accommodate a whole range of activities. Now we need to put the meat on the bones."

Mr Hill added that the turbulent economic market could prove a benefit to the project. If the housing market were to slow further, it could lead to lower construction costs for the project, he said.

"We will put together a very robust business case," he added. "This is a long term investment."

The council has already agreed to commit £165,000 a year to the building fund and it is hoped a shortlist of interested companies could be drawn up by January next year and the project put out to tender in January 2010.

Planning permission could be sought in August of that year with the contract being awarded to the successful company the following month.

Building work would start on the new centre in October 2010 with the opening planned for November the following year.

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