A brand-new leisure centre is to be built in the heart of Morpeth alongside a hotel and restaurant, it was revealed today.
The complex would also house a new library and customer services centre, according to county-council chiefs, with a ‘high-quality hotel and restaurant completing the prestige riverside site’ on Gas House Lane.
Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey said: “It’s yet more fantastic news for Morpeth.
“The administration is very sympathetic to residents’ calls for far better leisure facilities and for some time now we have been quietly searching for the best possible solution.
“So I’m delighted to invite the people of Morpeth to work with their county council in identifying exactly what type of leisure provisions they would like included.
“The council cabinet will be hearing more details next week (at its Tuesday meeting).
“This development will give even more reasons for people to enjoy the vibrant shopping, leisure and cultural attractions of this historic market town.”
The council was testing the market for the Riverside site, featuring the former library, the Willows, Beechfield and Bungalows buildings and The Terrace car park, since the middle of the year.
But Coun Davey said that while the authority received a number of potential bids, ‘we were determined to pursue proposals which were in the best long-term interests of not just Morpeth but of all Northumberland’s residents – not necessarily plans which might have offered the most money immediately’.
“If cabinet backs the Morpeth leisure-centre idea, the next stage is to invite residents to have their say,” he added.
A full business case would be developed for the substantial development once feasibility work had been completed.
The announcement of plans for the Gas House Lane site comes days after Coun Davey revealed that Morpeth is one of four Northumberland towns earmarked for new multi-storey car parks to make shopping and business easier for the growing numbers of locals and visitors.
It also follows the recent unveiling of a new larger Morpeth First School plus plans for dining, retail and housing developments on the County Hall site at Loansdean.