A progress report on plans for a new £30 million leisure centre in Armagh will be given to council early next month.
Tenders have now been received from those interested in bidding to draw up an outline business plan for the facility, which would replace the Orchard Leisure Centre.
Armagh I revealed in February the possibility of a new multi-million pound centre.
We did so as Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council agreed to employ professional consultants to take the project forward.
This will involve everything from design to location.
And it would seem that Mullinure remains the favoured location, according to council sources.
The former Armagh City and District Council had set aside budget for a business plan to be taken forward.
It was formally advertised for tender in May and has now closed.
When the final team is agreed, progress reports will be given and a final draft report is expected towards the end of August.
Plans would be presented to council in October or November.
The business case will assess and confirm whether or not there is sufficient need for the new centre, as well as a suitable location.
There is no room on the current site for an expansion of the existing Orchard Leisure Centre.
The business case will also consider the building requirements and design of the new centre to “service the ever-changing needs of the local community”.
Council has already been told that the Orchard Leisure Centre would require “significant investment” if it is to remain operational.
In 2009, Armagh City and District Council completed the refurbishment of the Orchard Leisure Centre with a 10 year ‘shelf life’.
The current site and building is limited in terms of future development – it is curtailed by its location and limited car parking.
In fact, a condition survey has recommended that a conservative investment of around £2.5 million would be required in just three years time if it is to remain open and operational at all.
Even allowing for this investment, councillors have been told that annual and ongoing maintenance costs are growing and will continue to do so.
This new business plan will assess the need for indoor and outdoor leisure provision in Armagh City.
It is expected to cost up to £160,ooo in the next financial year to complete, which includes producing designs or the new centre.
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