COUNCILLORS voted unanimously for a new Allander Leisure to be built on the centre’s existing car park in Bearsden at last Thursday’s policy and resources meeting.
SNP group leader Ian Mackay put forward the option of building a new centre to current standards costing £18million - with the current leisure centre remaining open during the redevelopment project.
Developers Cala/Stewart Milne will be asked to enter a legally binding agreement for their £10million contribution, with no reduction conditions, and they will also be asked to make available suitable land for temporary parking facilities at the sports centre.
The decision will remove a major stumbling block in the path of Cala’s plans to build 550 new homes between Bearsden and Milngavie.
Councillor Mackay, who represents Bearsden North, said: “After the consultations on the future of the Allander and the detailed financial information on the various options, it was time for the council to make a final decision on the way forward.
“Cala/Stewart Milne’s £10million contribution was included in the Reporter’s appeal decision which envisaged a new Allander being located on the bus garage site and is based on planning gain for the overall Kilmardinny/Westpark development and we require that this contribution is transferred to the car park site.
“The temporary car park is required because the cornerstone issue in the whole renewal proposal was that the existing Allander will remain open until the new sports centre is constructed.
“Having publicly announced they are prepared to meet these two requirements I am in no doubt that the developers will sign up.”
A group will be set up to progress the design of the new Allander.
Councillor Mackay explained: “It is important that as wide a cross section of the local community, the user groups, council and leisure trust are involved in the detailed decisions about what facilities will be included in the new sports centre, and how we make best use of available funding for what can be an iconic building which will be loved for many years.”
Provost Eric Gotts said: “I’m delighted the council is going to build a new Allander centre to industry standards.
“This was clearly the view of the large majority of residents who completed the council’s own commissioned piece of research earlier this year. By building on the car park at the sports centre, this will ensure that continuity of leisure provision is achieved.
“The council’s commitment to bridge the funding gap between the developer’s contribution and the indicative costs of the new build should ensure that the local community can look forward to a modern sports centre with facilities and specifications much superior to the existing 34 year old building.
“I hope this council commitment will finally dispel the perception in some quarters that the Bearsden and Milngavie communities get ‘short changed’ by being part of East Dunbartonshire.
“A new build rather refurbishment s ambitious but clearly the right decision.”
Spokesperson for Kilmardinny/Westpark Action Group (KWAG), Keith Small, said: “It certainly seems like a positive move. KWAG plans to meet early in the new year and we will release a comment on this decision.”
Cala/Stewart Milne was unavailable for comment.