Devon’s first ‘endless ski slope’ will be among the features of North Devon’s new leisure centre.

North Devon Council (NDC) announced today (Tuesday, September 24) that existing operator Parkwood Leisure Ltd has been awarded the contract to design, build and manage the new £14million facility, named 'Tarka Leisure' according to the concept design.

Work on the new centre on land next to Tarka Tennis Centre is expected to begin in spring next year, with completion by autumn 2022.

The bulk of the project will be paid for by money borrowed by the council through a public works loan, as revealed by the Gazette back in February.

The council has also received £1.75m in lottery money from Sport England plus £1.5m has been granted by the Coastal Communities Fund. Section 106 contributions from developers have also been put towards the build costs.

The council has said the project would be self-funding, with a large proportion of the loan repayments met by the return from the new facility.

In addition to the ski slope, the building will also house a 25-metre eight lane swimming pool plus a four-lane learner pool, together with moveable floors, spectator seating and competition timing system.

Other features include a sports hall with four courts, a large gym, three exercise studios, two with virtual technology.

The endless ski slope will be suitable for indoor skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing.

There will also be an indoor soft play and outdoor play area,

Plus a new reception area and cafe serving both the leisure and tennis centre with a view of the pools, ski area, sports hall and play areas.

Council leader David Worden said NDC was 'bucking the trend' at a time when other local authorities were having to close facilities.

He said: "Replacing the existing leisure centre has been our ambition for the past 10 years, so awarding this contract is a huge milestone for the project.

"The new leisure centre will have one of only a handful of endless ski slopes in the UK. The slopes allow novices to learn the basics of winter sports and more experienced users to ski advanced runs on virtual screens and are already used in countries such as Austria for ski training in the summer months.

"The new facilities, along with our recently completed artificial grass pitch, fantastic tennis centre and Falcons Gymnastics Academy next door, mean that North Devon will have some of the finest sports facilities in the South West."

NDC chairman Frank Biederman, added: "A lot of hard work has gone into the project to get it right. The swimming pool specification has been put together in consultation with our local surf-lifesaving and swimming clubs.

"It has been designed to improve the swimming offered to both club users and casual swimmers. A feature of the new pools is movable floors which allow the pool depths to be increased to 1.8 meters for surf-life saving training, competitions and water polo, which is deeper than the standard depths of new pools specified normally by Sport England and Swim England."