A NEW leisure centre in Wyre Forest could open in two years, it is hoped.
The facility is set be based at the former British Sugar site, Silverwoods, Stourport Road and could be open to the public on April 1, 2016. Outline planning permission for the proposal is due to be determined by Wyre Forest District Council's planning committee next month, with contracts due to be finalised in seven weeks from then if the application is approved.
The council's overview and scrutiny committee was due to discuss a provisional timetable for the controversial plans, which would see the closure of district sports centres in Kidderminster - The Glades - and Stourport, at a meeting at Wyre Forest House last night.
A report to go before councillors says a final application for £2 million of extra funding from Sport England's strategic facilities fund is due to be determined on May 20 this year. During the summer, tenders for the site will be received by June 10, with an operator appointed on August 18.
If all has gone to plan, building the leisure centre, which could include a sports hall, 25-metre swimming pool, fitness suite and five-a-side football pitches, would start on January 12 next year, with the facility opening to the public on April 1, 2016.
The new timetable has been drawn up following a U-turn by council leaders last November, when it was decided original plans to use the former Victoria cricket ground at Spennells Valley Road, Kidderminster, were "unsuitable".
Announcing the new favoured site at Silverwoods in November, Conservative councillor Ian Hardiman, cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “This decision has been taken after extensive due diligence." He added: “It is an excellent location to serve the whole district. It was not available when we were initially looking for a site.”
Cabinet members insist the new centre will save the cash-strapped authority money over keeping and maintaining the Stourport site and Kidderminster’s Glades - which are due to close by March, 2016 - and Bewdley Leisure Centre, which could be transferred to Bewdley High School, Worcestershire County Council and a voluntary group if negotiations are successful.
As part of the project, cabinet members also voted in 2012 not to continue the council’s contract with DC Leisure, which runs the Glades and Stourport and Bewdley Leisure Centre, beyond March, 2016.
Mr Hardiman said the move would “significantly cut costs” and “the alternative would potentially be no public leisure centre provision in the district”.