A NEW £15m state-of-the-art leisure centre could open in Didcot in four years.
Work to bring the new complex, with a swimming pool, sports hall, squash courts and fitness facilities, to the town is set to be put in motion tomorrow.
South Oxfordshire District Council’s cabinet is being recommended to approve outline plans and release £60,000 to carry out a feasibility study.
A location has not yet been decided, but work on the centre could start in late 2014 and it could open two years later.
The new facility is being built to accommodate the town’s growing population, which is set to rise by more than 17,600 residents by 2026.
The current population is about 25,000.
The plan for the new facility began in 2009 and was officially recognised in the council’s leisure and sports strategy published last year.
A £15m fund for the centre was approved in February.
Cabinet member for leisure Bill Service said: “We need to ensure that Didcot has suitable and inspirational leisure facilities to support the growth in population over the coming years. The proposals are just the start of what will hopefully be a very exciting period, not just for the town but also the surrounding area.”
It is not known what will happen to Didcot Leisure Centre in Mereland Road and the Didcot Wave pool in Newlands Avenue.
Julian Moss, secretary of the Didcot Squash Club, said it was good news the council was investing in leisure for the future.
He said: “As a squash player I would welcome any new facilities.”
He said the Wave and the leisure centre were only sufficient to cater for the town’s current population.
If the council gives the scheme the go-ahead it will begin looking at the need for different sports facilities and possible designs.
A public consultation will follow the feasibility work.
Jo Murphy, who runs the Barramundi swimming club at Didcot Wave, said her only concern was the pool would be closed before the new one was opened.
She said: “Otherwise it is a thumbs-up all round. What we have is not adequate for the future needs of the future population.
“The Wave is brimming at the moment, there is so much demand.
“This is a huge plus to competitive swimmers as well as those wanting to use the facility for leisure.”
She said she was glad to see the project was likely to go ahead but said she had hoped work would start sooner.
She added: “I am very reassured it is happening at all.
“If it is a two-year build, great, but 2014 cannot come soon enough.”