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Countdown to new-look sports centre

PUBLISHED: 10:05 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 06 July 2010

plans to rejuvenate Lowestoft's main sports centre with a £6m overhaul are gathering pace - and there's been good news this week for squash players.

A shortlist of three "potential partners" has been unveiled, and final bids for tender are now being submitted ahead of a decision expected to be taken in February or March.

plans to rejuvenate Lowestoft's main sports centre with a £6m overhaul are gathering pace - and there's been good news this week for squash players.

A shortlist of three “potential partners” has been unveiled, and final bids for tender are now being submitted ahead of a decision expected to be taken in February or March.

Waveney District Council last year announced plans for the redevelopment of Waterlane Leisure Centre, highlighting the need to “radically improve and refresh the site” to provide 21st- century facilities.

Cheshire-based DV8 Designs came up with plans to rejuvenate the centre, which was originally built in 1976.

They included a training pool, health spa, better gym and extended space for new sports and activities.

Grant funding of £1m from Sport England to modernise the swim-ming pool was confirmed by council bosses, and this was boosted this week by news of further six-figure funding.

Simon Bellamy, Waveney's leisure operations manager, said: “Following the initial successful bid for £1m to upgrade the pool, the council was invited to submit an additional bid for capital funding. As a result of this bid we have been successful in securing an additional £130,000, which has been earmarked for the install-ation of a movable floor in the deep end of the pool.”

That floor has now been confirmed by Sport England and will be included in the bidders' final proposals.

Despite fears for their future, squash courts look set to stay at the centre. The initial proposals sparked controversy as squash players protested about plans to shut down the two courts and replace them with a crèche.

Now, Mr Bellamy says squash provision has been included in all three bidders' initial proposals.

Once a preferred option has been chosen, the whole development is likely to take around 18 months to complete.

During the job, the council aims to keep as many facilities as possible open but warns that the town's main pool will have to close to enable replacement and upgrading of its plant. The new equipment would be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, said Mr Bellamy.

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