A new multi-million pound leisure centre which will double as ‘a national centre of excellence’ could be up and running in Sheffield within two years.
Sheffield Council has confirmed it plans to build its first swimming pool for 20 years on the site of Thorncliffe playing fields in High Green.
In a first for the city, the facility, backed by Ecclesfield Parish Council and the National Centre for Sports and Exercise medicine, will also be home to a community gym, health consultation rooms and an exercise studio.
The bulk of funding for the £7million centre - working title Active North - will come from Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy funding and the council has pledged to put up the rest.
Coun Isobel Bowler, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Sheffield.It will act as a district centre for the north of the city.”
A public consultation launches today, with a formal decision expected in February.
Coun Bowler added: “At the moment we’re hoping for a timescale of around two years, so late 2015.”
As one of several National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine venues around the UK, research and development of best health practice will be carried out under its roof. The new six-lane pool and dedicated learner pool are designed to replace Chapeltown Baths, but trustees of the community-run facility have given the scheme their backing.
Staff are expected to be transferred to the new leisure centre.
Kath Burgess, chairwoman of Chapeltown Baths’ board, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For the last 18 years we’ve provided swimming in the area and helped to educate a whole generation but the pool is 52 years old and is coming to the end of its life.”
Ecclesfield Parish Council approved the plans at a meeting last night.
Chairman Coun John Housley said: “We have worked hard to ensure there will be an orderly transfer of services so there is little or no disruption.
“The modern, state-of-the-art facilities will improve the health and well-being of this and future generations.”
Once built the council will own the building but its management will be put out to tender.
Sports clubs who use the existing grounds at Thorncliffe will not be forced out and outdoor facilities will be improved.
The decision could anger residents of Stocksbridge, in north Sheffield, whose pool was closed earlier this year.