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Green light for new £25m leisure centre

Artist impression. Credit: Carlisle City Council

Controversial plans for a multi-million pound leisure centre in Carlisle have been approved.

Councillors gave the £25m proposal, which will see a new eight-lane swimming pool and a gym, the green light despite opposition.

They argue the site is unsuitable for redevelopment because it has a history of flooding. It was left underwater in 2015 in the wake of Storm Desmond.

Concerns were also been raised about the loss of the city's current James Street swimming pool, and the future of the adjacent historic Turkish baths that date back to 1874.

The current Sands Centre. Credit: ITV Border

The redevelopment will see:

  • Main pool hall & learner pool with a moveable floor and a spectator seating gallery.
  • Four court sports hall with a spectator gallery.
  • 120 station fitness suite.
  • Two dance studios.
  • Spinning studio.
  • Changing facilities.
  • Changing Places facility.
  • Dementia friendly design.
  • NHS Physiotherapy suite.
  • Reception desk with offices.
  • Environmental measures to support more efficient use of energy and photovoltaic panels and combined heat and power energy generation.

“The Sands Centre redevelopment is a major project that will provide significant benefits. It represents a cornerstone in our plans to support our communities to continue to improve their health and wellbeing.

"There is a necessity to do the work. Carlisle desperately needs new swimming facilities. The Pools are out of date and the costs of doing nothing would be significant. It would cost more for the council to do nothing as we’d still need to invest in the current facilities to keep them functioning as they are. This is a one-off opportunity with a dual benefit of all the facilities being on one site.”

– Leader of Carlisle City Council, Cllr John Mallinson

Work is expected to start later this year and scheduled to be finished by summer 2021.