Optimism remains for Carlisle sports venue

Image caption, The centre would include a sports campus for Cumbria University

Council bosses are optimistic plans for a £15m revamp of Carlisle's main sport and entertainment venue will go ahead, despite government budget cuts.

Leader of the council, Mike Mitchelson, said the redevelopment of the Sands Centre could take several years.

He added challenging budget cuts could make initial plans hard to achieve.

The proposals for the Sands Centre include a 25-metre swimming pool and a gym, as part of a four-storey sports campus for Cumbria University.

A Freedom of Information request from BBC Radio Cumbria shows that £118,000 has been spent on consultants in connection with the Sands redevelopment since January.

Most of it has gone on legal advice, construction guidance and transport planning.

'Enhance the city'

Mr Mitchelson said the city needed a new facility as the existing swimming baths in James Street were outdated.

He said: "It was going to be an important development to enhance the city economically and socially.

"It also gave us the opportunity to provide facilities for the university, because helping the university to establish in Carlisle is also very important."

He said a number of conditions had to be met to deliver the project, including sufficient capital, the university's requirements and an agreement with Carlisle Leisure regarding future subsidy.

The Spending Review had "increased the challenge of meeting those conditions," he said.

"But we have identified it as an important project, we have gone for planning permission, which we have seven years to deliver.

"What we feel is important, is that we do have a project ready to run when the financial climate improves."

The project is yet to be approved by the full council.

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