Start date for new Hartlepool multi-million pound leisure centre Highlight after councillors agree new budget
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A full meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council on Thursday evening (September 28) gave the go-ahead to a new funding package for Highlight, the planned state-of-the-art leisure centre on the Waterfront.
Work is to begin on site by November and the new facility – featuring events space, NHS provision, three swimming pools, a gym and fitness studios – is expected to open in 2025.
The budget for the project has increased by £9million from £25.65m originally when the Highlight was developed in 2019/20, bringing the estimated cost to be in the region of £34.65m.
Council chiefs said the rise is primarily due to factors outside their control, including inflation, the impact of the pandemic on the construction industry and increasing energy costs.
Council leader, Councillor Mike Young, said he was “delighted” with the approval which means “the residents of Hartlepool will now get the new leisure centre they deserve”.
He added: “It will be a fantastic development that will be an attraction in its own right and also complement other local visitor destinations.
“Although the additional investment is significant, Highlight will have major long-term benefits for Hartlepool and demonstrates the council’s commitment to regenerating the town, raising aspirations and supporting improved health outcomes.”
The extra funding will be met from a mix of an additional grant from Sport England, reviewing council capital funding allocations, using contingency funds and borrowing.
Councillor Shane Moore, chair of council, added he was looking forward to “seeing a spade in the ground very shortly”.
Opposition councillors also unanimously backed the plans, with Labour’s councillor Pamela Hargreaves stating it is a “fantastic opportunity” for Hartlepool adding “there isn’t a better location for such a facility”.
The meeting heard council chiefs had “worked tirelessly” on the finances, with “every penny scrutinised” and the project found to be “in line with national and regional benchmarks”.
Conservative Councillor Young added: “The majority of funding for this scheme has been secured externally at no cost to Hartlepool residents, so the facility still represents good value for money.”
The new site will replace the ageing Mill House Leisure Centre, which will remain in operation until Highlight opens.