North Devon Council’s overview and scrutiny committee was given an update on the new leisure centre’s progress on Thursday

North Devon Leisure Centre. Picture: North Devon CouncilNorth Devon Leisure Centre. Picture: North Devon Council

Plans to bring North Devon’s new leisure centre to fruition are moving forward.

An outline planning application for the new facility, which has been previously estimated to cost £8million, will go before North Devon Council’s planning committee next month.

The council’s overview and scrutiny committee was given an update on the progress of the new leisure centre at its meeting on Thursday by services and contracts delivery manager Mark Kentell.

After putting the contract for the leisure centre out to tender in September, the council has identified three potential contractors and is inviting them to submit outline solutions.

Mr Kentell said he hoped the chosen contractor to design, build, run and maintain the new facilities will be selected in September, ready for construction work to begin in early 2019 for opening in May 2020.

READ MORE: Money ‘ring-fenced’ for new North Devon leisure centre

The council wants to extend the Tarka Tennis Centre to provide a new pool and leisure facilities at Seven Brethren in Barnstaple.

It is proposing to include a new eight-lane 25metre pool, learner pool and fitness gym, exercise studios, sports hall and a full size 3G artificial grass pitch.

Addressing concerns from councillors that some sports were left out of the leisure centre blueprint, Mr Kentell said there was enough provision in the area for them not to be included at the Seven Brethren site.

He said: “We’ve done a minimum list and there are some notable absences, such as bowls and squash. There is nothing to stop a contractor putting those in but we are not going to insist they do.

“The reason for that is Sport England suggest there is, or will be, provision for both sports in North Devon and Torridge. I’m comfortable with the methodology and Sport England is comfortable with it.

“I completely sympathise with people having to travel a bit further for sport, but I would feel worse if we were catering for them and ignoring the huge amount of people who need a sports hall and a swimming pool.”

READ MORE: Masterplan for major development of Seven Brethren in Barnstaple

Sport England has identified Kingsley Indoor Bowling Club in Westward Ho! as an adequate provision for indoor bowls, while development at Atlantic Racquet Centre and courts at Woolacombe would suitably service the demand for squash.

Sport England has already ring-fenced £1.5million for the project.