CHESTER'S Northgate Arena is being earmarked for "significant investment" with refurbishment plans set to be considered by councillors next week.

If the proposal is given the go-ahead, work to modernise the outdated facility – built in 1976 and currently in need of nearly £6m of urgent maintenance work – could start within nine months.

A report to the Cheshire West and Chester Council cabinet, which meets on July 8, states: "The current condition of the building is poor with backlog maintenance totalling £6.1m, with £5.8m of this being work that is urgently required.

"In the past 12 months the site has been closed or partially closed on at least two occasions due to the failure of key M&E equipment or deterioration in the fabric of the building."

Also up for discussion during the meeting is a new approach to health and wellbeing across the borough.

The council and its community interest company, Brio Leisure, are looking to work with partners and residents to develop leisure, health and wellbeing services that are tailored to meet the needs of communities.

It would see the Northgate Arena and Ellesmere Port Sports Village become primary hub sites with facilities in Christleton, Neston and Frodsham as secondary hub sites.

These would offer a customised range of services to meet the needs of residents, a report to councillors says.

Alongside this, services could also be delivered in different ways closer to communities – including making more use of existing community facilities, partner networks, green space, outdoor facilities and digital opportunities.

If councillors agree, engagement with communities about the vision will begin in late summer.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "Brio is facing significant challenges, from changes in the market with the increase of budget gyms to a rise in operating costs and the ageing condition of a number of its sites across the borough.

"Despite this, until the impact of COVID-19 was felt here in March, they continued to offer our communities access to excellent health and wellbeing opportunities and have gone on to develop innovative ways to move services online after the pandemic forced facilities to close.

"In the light of COVID-19 and the challenges in the sector, it is clear, however, that the way we run leisure, health and wellbeing services in the borough needs to be reviewed.

"We are looking at this as a real opportunity to tailor valuable health and wellbeing services on a local level, working with each of our communities to meet their needs in the best way.

"We want to work in partnership with Brio and our communities, all playing our part to look at what we offer, how we do it and how we could do it differently to make a greater difference to people’s lives and achieve our aims of are supporting children and young people to make the best start in life and enabling more adults to live longer, healthier and happier lives, while achieving the best value for public money that we can."