Construction work is set to begin on a new state-of-the-art leisure centre following the approval of a multi-million-pound funding package.

Hartlepool Borough Council (HBC) have confirmed construction will begin on the Highlight Leisure Centre in a "matter of weeks" after a new £34.65 million revised funding strategy was approved by the authority’s Finance and Policy Committee yesterday (September 28).

This follows an increase in the cost of the scheme, including the impact of the pandemic on the construction industry, the impact of inflation on the costs of materials, and increasing energy costs.

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The new building is expected to open in 2025, and will replace the town’s Mill House Leisure Centre which opened in 1972. 

Councillor Mike Young, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that councillors have supported the revised funding strategy which means that the residents of Hartlepool will now get the new leisure centre they deserve.

“It will be a fantastic development that will be an attraction in its own right and complement other local visitor destinations, including the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, the Museum of Hartlepool and Hartlepool Marina.

“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 for local people.”

“It is important to note that 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 for Hartlepool.”

Following three years of design, the projected cost of the facility is now estimated to be in the region of £34.65m.

Following three years of design, the projected cost of the facility is now estimated to be in the region of £34.65m.

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The revised funding strategy consists of an additional grant from Sport England, money released following a review of the Council’s Capital Programme, and capital contingency funds held by the authority and borrowing.

The council has said the facility mix will meet the demand for existing and future provision, safeguarding leisure facilities in Hartlepool.

Mill House Leisure Centre will continue to operate until Highlight opens.