Following a full review of all potential locations, the Terrace site on Gas House Lane has been chosen for Morpeth’s new leisure centre.
The money for the multi-million pound development was approved in Northumberland County Council’s budget and follows a range of consultation with the local community and other stakeholders through the Morpeth Forum.
One of the factors behind the decision is that building on a new site also ensures the current leisure centre can stay open while construction takes place, and starting from scratch means there is much more flexibility for a new design.
The facility will be run by Active Northumberland, the charitable trust that manages leisure services across the county on behalf of the council.
The team working on the plans hope to be able to share more details about the new leisure centre at the next Morpeth Forum drop-in event at Morpeth Town Hall on March 16.
Coun Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “While the current leisure centre building isn’t fit for purpose, it’s important to remember the staff working there are all incredibly professional and well trained and are delivering some fantastic leisure services.
“A new facility at a new central location will provide state-of-the art activities, which will benefit the staff and the thousands of people who use the centre every year.
“Other options – including moving to a site on the edge of town or next to the high school – were unpopular during our drop-in events.
“The Terrace, while not without issues, has emerged as the best practical option.”
The work forms part of the council’s commitment to improving sports and leisure facilities across the county, which includes building other new centres in Berwick and Ponteland,
Designs will now be worked on to establish exactly what services will be located at the new centre.
Speaking on behalf of the Morpeth Forum, Coun Nic Best said: “This decision by the county council chimes with the Neighbourhood Plan, which specifies a town centre site for a new leisure centre.
“It also demonstrates the way in which town councillors, through the Morpeth Forum, have been able to influence county council decision-making.
“Now we are working alongside Active Northumberland to see which facilities can be included in the scheme and trying to make sure that they reflect as far as possible what the public, the centre users and the would-be centre users have said that they would like.”
Mark Tweedie, chief executive of Active Northumberland, said: “Just like the existing Riverside Leisure Centre has done, this new facility will serve the Morpeth community for a generation to come.
“Modern lifestyles mean that most of us are not as physically active as we should be, which can be detrimental to our long term health, so it’s never been more important to provide great places to help people to start and stay active.
“Active Northumberland is really looking forward to working closely with the local community and Northumberland County Council to deliver this exciting new development for the town.”
Previous drop-in events at Morpeth Town Hall have included details of other proposed county council projects.
They have also given companies and clubs the opportunity to show residents what they have been working on – for example, the new bar and restaurant at the Queen’s Head, planned works at Morpeth Town FC’s Craik Park ground and a proposed residential development in Castle Square.