Work on a new £30million leisure centre in Craigavon will start early in the new year, after planners gave the project the green light.
And if all goes according to plan work on the state-of-the-art centre is scheduled to be completed by 2020.
The long-awaited proposal, first put forward in 2010, is part of a wider and ambitious regeneration programme across the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough area.
The biggest capital project ever undertaken by the Council, the new leisure centre will provide an enhanced facility to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the whole Borough.
The centre will be unique in in the region, offering indoor and outdoor leisure experiences from a single site.
The facility, which will be situated at the site of the existing Watersports Centre, adjacent to the Civic & Conference Centre and overlooking the South Lake, features an impressive eight-lane, 50-metre swimming pool, a teaching pool, fun pool and a spectator gallery.
Once complete, Craigavon will host one of the largest gyms on the island of Ireland, with visitors enjoying panoramic views.
Customers will have state-of-the-art equipment, spin and dance studios, an extensive health and beauty suite, activity rooms, squash courts and a large sports hall suitable for a variety of sporting activities.
In addition to the staff that will run the facility, the project will create more than 500 jobs during the construction phase.
The construction phase alone is also expected to deliver an estimated £6.5 million in direct wages to the economy, apprenticeships, work placements and job opportunities for the local community.
Disabled Sport NI ‘excellence’ status is expected to be granted once the building is constructed given the enhanced accessibility provision incorporated into the design.
It will also deploy the latest technology to make the building and the services it offers as energy efficient and as sustainable as possible.
“The new leisure centre plans are ambitious, forward-looking and are eagerly awaited, representing years of planning, extensive consultation, revisions and further consultation,” added Gareth Wilson.
“Carefully considered with extensive feedback provided by residents, clubs and associations, I’m thrilled that everyone can now benefit from this significant investment.”
For further information, and regular updates, visit www.getactiveabc.org/south-lake-leisure-centre.