New and improved leisure centres, swimming pool and football pitches are the highlights of ambitious Halton Council proposals to invest in the borough’s leisure facilities.

Kingsway leisure centre will be replaced by a new £20m leisure hub on Moor Lane, while the popular Brookvale recreation centre will get an overhaul as part of an indoor and built facilities strategy.

A new leisure centre is also proposed to replace Runcorn Pool.

The strategy, which sets out the council’s vision for the next ten years, along with illustrative plans for the new leisure centre, and a local football facilities plan, will go before councillors at this week’s executive board.

If approved consultation will then begin to confirm facility mix, layout and business planning, and progressing other objectives in the strategy’s action plan.

The indoor strategy was developed because the council faces challenges in respect of its indoor sports facilities; primarily that council-owned swimming pools and sports halls are old and of poor or below average quality.

Studies were undertaken to look at the supply and demand for facilities in the borough, taking into account the quality of the current stock and future requirements.

The proposed new leisure centre in Widnes would comprise a 25m x 6 lane swimming pool with a learner pool and seating for 150 people, 100-station health and fitness provision, a sports hall, at least two multi-purpose studio spaces, complementary facilities, health consultation rooms and a café/social space.

The council would aim to have the new centre open by the end of 2022.

Other main objectives in the strategy are:

• Brookvale recreation centre would be refurbished, including a replacement floor in the sports hall and roofing works

• Runcorn swimming pool is no longer fit for purpose and should be replaced on a new site, yet to be identified.

• Refurbish Upton community centre’s sports hall and changing rooms

• Encourage village hall/community facilities to provide more physical, health and wellbeing activities that reflect the needs of local people.

• Work with schools to offer community use of their sports facilities.

• Work with private sport/fitness operators to encourage wider participation.

Funding for the proposed indoor facilities will be from a mix of sources, including the council, borrowing, and external funding such as Sport England.

The report highlights it could cost £12m just to refurbish the existing Kingsway leisure centre, as opposed to £20m for a brand new facility and the opportunity for a larger regeneration site on the current Kingsway site, part of the proceeds of which would contribute to the cost of the new leisure centre.

The football plan is part of a national scheme by the Football Foundation to channel investment into grassroots across every local council area in the country.

Following consultation with local football, an action plan has been produced which would be the first point of reference to any bids to the Football Foundation who are responsible for considering investment and can provide up to a maximum of 50 per cent match funding.

Halton’s football facility plan identified potential projects including:

• Two new 3G pitches, one at Frank Myler Pavilion and one at a Runcorn site, yet to be identified

• 37 improved grass pitches across Runcorn and Widnes

• Two new changing rooms at Haddocks Wood and Leigh Recreation playing fields

• One pitch for small-sided games.

Councillor Phil Harris, portfolio holder for community, sport and leisure, said: "Investment in new sports and leisure facilities makes great sense in Halton given our health and deprivation needs and we also need to take account of the need to invest to save.

"Halton has a great sporting community that deserves better as do the thousands of leisure users."