PLANS for a new £10.1 million leisure centre in Wyre Forest have taken a step forward after winning outline planning permission.
Wyre Forest District Council wants to build the sports facility at Silverwoods - the former British Sugar site - Stourport Road, Kidderminster and members of the authority's planning committee overwhelmingly voted in favour of the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday at Wyre Forest House.
If a full application is submitted and approved, it will see the Kidderminster's Glades and Stourport Sport Centre closed. It is hoped the new centre will have a 25m swimming pool, sports hall, climbing wall and eight five and seven-a-side outdoor football pitches.
The plans have been a subject of controversy for a number of years since a district leisure review recommended against renewing the council's contract with DC Leisure - which manages the current facilities in Kidderminster, Stourport and Bewdley - after 2016.
An application submitted and approved last year to build the new centre at the Victoria Sports Ground, Spennells Valley Road, Kidderminster was later withdrawn after negotiations fell through.
Plans to build at the former British Sugar site have generally been better received than the previous proposals but objectors have cited issues with users - especially children - accessing the site from some part of the district. Independent Community and Health Concern councillors argue the project should be scrapped altogether and say the district's current leisure centres could be retained and refurbished for "a fraction of the cost".
At last night's meeting, Conservative councilllor Marcus Hart said: "It is important that no one across this district is disenfranchised but I think due to the high level of interest commercial bus operators will be rushing to provide access to this location."
Liberal councillor Fran Oborski added: "I think this really is in the right place, I can be certain we will get buses diverted to the site."
Labour councillor Howard Martin, who also backed the plans, said: "I hope when it is developed I hope we find a better way of getting people there. There is this presumption that everybody drives and that is not the case, not everybody drives."
Full details of the design of the facility have not been agreed as this was an outline application. They will be finalised following a design and build tendering process, currently taking place.
The council is also still working on purchasing the site.