Investment in leisure includes swimming pool, sports hall, fitness suite and dance studios
The £15m first phase of a new sport and leisure village on Stanney Lane has been given unanimous approval.
The Cheshire West and Chester Council application, co-funded by the Sports Council, is part of a £70m investment by the borough in leisure facilities across Cheshire West and Chester.
The development at the dilapidated former Stanney High School on Stanney Lane includes a 25m eight lane swimming pool, an eight court sports hall, a fitness suite, a community room, dance studios and a cafe.
The multi-purpose sports and leisure facilities were the first phase of a plan for the future of the academy site which would also enhance outdoor athletic and football provision and link these to facilities in the purpose-built building.
Describing the facilities as ‘state of the art’, Louise Sheridan from Cheshire based architects Ellis Williams, emphasised the sports hall had been designed to national basketball league standards.
The development would have a public plaza to Stanney Lane and there would be ‘significant landscaping’ to enhance a proposed boulevard approach for the road.
The intention was to encourage new users and to promote a higher participation in sport.
The architect described the new build as ‘a pavilion in a parkland’.
Borough leisure chief Cllr Stuart Parker (Con) described the development as ‘an iconic recreation facility’ and said it would be part of the creation of the larger sports village on the site.
He held out the prospect of a new indoor athletics track in the future and pointed out there had been extensive consultations on the development which had cross party support.
Cllr Parker stressed the borough council was investing at a time when most other authorities were cutting back or closing their leisure facilities.
It would ‘totally enhance’ leisure opportunities in Ellesmere Port he suggested.
Echoing concerns raised by swimming clubs, Cllr Angela Claydon (Lab, St Paul's) said she would have liked to have seen an application for a 50m pool.
“Obviously we want a new sports centre for Ellesmere Port and I am totally in favour and will be voting to approve,” she said.
Cllr Claydon received assurances the present athletic track and sports building at Stanney lane would be retained and successfully argued that a proposed alfresco area should close at a reasonable time.
Planning officers explained the development did not affect the existing track and sports club building.
Councillors heard there would be ten full time and 26 part time staff equivalent to 23 full time jobs.
A proposed new roundabout at the junction with Dover Drive, which would be the main access, will be subject to further consultation.
Permission was agreed unanimously.