BUILDING a like-for-like replacement for Chester's Northgate Arena would cost an estimated £28m and has been deemed "unaffordable".

A report by Cheshire West and Chester Council's director of public health, Ian Ashworth, also concludes that none of the five shortlisted sites for a new build facility are considered "ideal".

Councillors will meet next week to rule on a recommendation to press ahead with plans to refurbish the outdated Northgate Arena, which currently has a £6m maintenance backlog.

If the cabinet backs the proposal then work to modernise the leisure centre, which was built in 1976, could start by April next year.

In Mr Ashworth's report, the shortlisted sites considered for a new build facility are:

  1. Land north of Countess of Chester, Parson's Lane.
  2. LAPA fields playground, Barwoods Drive.
  3. Land west of Greyhound Retail Park, Chaser Court.
  4. Land adjacent to New Scene Youth Centre, Sussex Road.
  5. Playing fields, Kingsway.

Chester's Northgate Arena earmarked for "significant investment" with refurbishment plans set to be considered by councillors next week

He states: "Estimated costs to build a like for like replacement for Northgate Arena are circa £28m, including a leisure pool (£22m excluding the leisure pool).

"These costs could be offset to some extent by the capital receipt generated from the existing site. Property Services are currently undertaking some work to estimate the potential capital receipt.

"All the alternative sites identified are currently council owned. The initial investigation of the shortlisted sites suggests none is ideal and the broad cost estimates indicate that this option is unaffordable.

"A replacement facility would take over three years to deliver, placing ongoing risk to the current Northgate Arena site in view of its maintenance liabilities.

"Some informal market engagement was also undertaken to explore the possibility of purchasing/acquiring an existing privately owned site. Their appeared very little interest from the market in pursuing this option."

In recommending that the council goes down the route of refurbishing the Northgate Arena, Mr Ashworth concludes that a new build would not be cost effective and would take several years to deliver, adding that a move away from a city centre location would potentially have a detrimental impact on the numbers attending.

In relation to the refurbishment of the Northgate Arena, he states: "Estimated timescales are nine months to explore the option fully and develop the detailed proposals for the refurbishment, capital approvals and co-located solutions, with an estimated start of project date of April 2021."