Council hopes to sell of North Devon Leisure Centre site with hopes of new development including a possible cinema, hotels or restaurants.

North Devon Leisure Centre could be sold off to developers - with cinema operators, hoteliers and restaurateurs among those being targeted by owner North Devon Council.

It is hoped the sale of the prime Barnstaple riverside site will help fund the development of a new £8million leisure centre, most likely linked to the new Tarka Tennis Centre building.

Yesterday (Tuesday) members of North Devon Council's executive committee agreed to provide £35,000 for pre-planning application studies, as well as £50,000 for an independent external report on options for developing the whole site.

Council leader Des Brailey told the Gazette: "It's in a prime location by the waterfront and provided we can mitigate flooding risk, lends itself to many different aspects of development."

A report to the executive said suggestions for the current site's use included a 'leisure focused scheme', potentially centred around cinema and food uses, that also included residential, hotel and retail.

The council has said it needs a new leisure centre by 2020 because the existing ageing building has outlived its lifespan and needs £3.5m thrown at it for repairs.

Conceptual designs for the proposed new centre were shown to councillors yesterday but are being kept under wraps until after the full council meeting on January 13.

Two project teams have been created - one to look at delivering a new leisure centre by 2020 and another to look at the best way to develop the whole of Severn Brethren and market it to potential developers.

Mr Brailey added: "We need to ensure we get the maximum value for our assets so the people of North Devon end up with a very good leisure centre."

"This is open-ended, because until the studies come back we will not be in a position to make a judgement, but I genuinely think there will be competition for the site.

What would you like to see on the leisure centre site? Let us know on Twitter using #WeAreNorthDevon.