PROPOSALS for detailed work to start on plans for a multi-million pound new leisure centre in Ulverston have received backing from councillors.

South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC’s) Cabinet received a report on Monday outlining the next steps in the ambitious leisure centre scheme.

It included a further stage of development work to finalise the design, facilities and funding – and a commitment of find £100,000 from the council’s reserves to fund the work.

Culture and leisure portfolio holder Cllr Chris Hogg told the Cabinet that it would be a ‘huge investment’ for the Furness town.

“Ulverston is our second largest town and a key service centre to the surrounding areas,” he said. “It’s an incredibly important place to South Lakeland.

“I think the prime reason we’re doing this is the health and well-being of our residents, giving them access to modern leisure facilities.

“Having a new leisure centre is going to be a great opportunity. Hopefully it shows our commitment to the town of Ulverston and the residents of Ulverston. We see a significant future for that town.”

The plan is to replace the ageing facilities at Priory Road in Ulverston – currently being run by leisure provider GLL on behalf of SLDC.

GSK announced in July last year that it had changed its position on the development of its Ulverston site, a decision that also had a significant bearing on the future of the new sports centre project.

Over the past year discussions have continued between the council and GSK to see whether the project could still be progressed, and the company has confirmed it will contribute £2million to the Ulverston sports centre plan to support improvements in health and well-being for the community it works with.

That funding commitment means the overall project remains viable and the next stage of the project can still move forward, although the scale and affordability of the proposal has had to be revised as the projected overall budget has reduced from £12.9 million to £9.2 million.

Finance portfolio holder Cllr Andrew Jarvis gave his support to the scheme but added that it came “with risks”.

“This a major investment for the council and brings with it some uncertainties,” he said. “If this goes ahead the council will be responsible for two thirds of the funding – around £6 million.

“That will involve taking out additional loans but at least for the foreseeable future that is largely funded through savings we would otherwise be making through expenditure on revenue to tackle budgets.”