PLANS for a refurbished and greener Wellington Sports Centre have moved a step closer after clearing an important hurdle. 

The proposals cover maintenance works needed to keep the building fit for purpose, along with a suite of ‘decarbonisation’ improvements funded by a Government grant.

The project still needs planning approval before it can proceed and a decision on this is expected in mid-October.

In the meantime, key councillors have endorsed in principle the plans for the centre, which is owned by Somerset Council and managed by Everyone Active.

The building’s boiler, ventilation unit, and roof all need replacing as part of essential maintenance works.

The council is also looking to seize the opportunity to use grant funding to make additional improvements to energy efficiency and sustainability.

Proposed work includes:

  • Replacing a fossil fuel heating system with electric air source heat pumps

  • Replacing and upgrading the ventilation unit

  • Installing solar panels onto the building roof

  • Replacing and upgrading windows and doors

  • Replacing the roof and improving its insulation

It was estimated the new building would deliver carbon savings of nearly 220 tonnes per year.

The cost of the project has been put at £3.6 million, of which about £1.3 million would come from the council’s successful bid to the Public Sector Decarbonation Scheme to cover the additional sustainability work.

If the project gets the go ahead, the sports centre would remain open during the work but there would be some unavoidable disruption to facilities, including the swimming pool.

The council said it would work with Everyone Active to keep customers updated and minimise the impact.

Somerset executive Cllr Ross Wyke said: “Essential maintenance works have to happen soon if this popular facility is to remain fit for purpose. 

“We have spent a lot of time considering a variety of options, and this is the most cost-effective approach that also delivers environmental benefits.”

Fellow executive Cllr Dixie Darch said: “Even in difficult financial times, it is important that we seize opportunities to make the council and its assets more sustainable where we can.

“This is just such an opportunity and the end result would be a great asset for the community, one that is more energy efficient and helps to reduce our carbon footprint.”