A DATE has been revealed for the start of work on the £25m major redevelopment project at Carlisle’s Sands Centre.

The redevelopment project, which will bring a raft of new facilities to the Carlisle venue, will begin in early May.

Carlisle City Council, which is funding and presiding over the project, is predicting a completion date of mid December next year.

The aim is to then have the Sands Centre’s new facilities opened in early 2022.

The ambitious project will see a major redesign of the venue, with the headline addition being a brand new 25m pool, intended to replace the current swimming pool offering at the ageing James Street site.

Carlisle City Council’s deputy chief executive, Darren Crossley, said it was important the city council replaced the swimming pools.

“The pools we have at the moment are housed at an ageing site, that in all honestly was probably facing a managed declined,” Mr Crossley said.

“Unfortunately we were seeing more and more regular closures of the pools for maintenance - that was only going to get worse.

“With a brand new pool and new gym and sports offerings the Sands redevelopment is going to bring the quality of facilities you would expect from Carlisle as the capital of the borderlands region.”

City Council leader John Mallinson said another major benefit of the redevelopment will be the fact NHS physiotherapy services will find a home in the redeveloped Sands Centre.

“The redeveloped Sands Centre will be a true hub for health and wellbeing for the Carlisle community,” Mr Mallinson said.

“As a council we want to do what we can to support and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

“There’s crossover there between more clinical services like physiotherapy and the health benefits - both physical and mental - of the sports and leisure activities that will be provided for at the Sands Centre.”

The current NHS musculoskeletal services operating at the Sands Centre will for a duration be housed at Lismore Place, on the site of the former Newman School which was flooded in 2015.

The risk of flooding is an issue that received a lot of consideration in the consultation process, as plans for the Sands Centre redevelopment were drawn up.

Fears have previously been raised that committing to the currents Sands Centre site was short-sighted, given the proximity to the River Eden.

But Mr Mallinson said it was unfeasible to look past the current site for the redevelopment project.

“Given the scale of the project, none of the alternative sites proposed could have accommodated the Sands Centre.”

Mr Crossley added that considerations over flooding had remained a key focus as plans were drawn up.

“The design of the Sands itself means it can swiftly recover should a flood ever happen,” he said.

“But under the guidance of experts, we can be confident that a serious flood of the Sands is unlikely.

“Even under the extremes of Storm Desmond, flooding of the actual Sands was minor.

“And since 2015, the Environment Agency has further bolstered the defences around that section of the Eden.”