WINCHESTER policymakers are to decide the uses for the proposed 50 metre swimming pool at the new leisure centre.

Senior councillors have been asked by designers as to whether the pool will be used for national swimming events.

A report to the Cabinet (Leisure Centre) committee asks whether the council wants the pool to have the necessary wide lanes and seats for 350 spectators.

The committee meets next Monday June 12 and will hear that a planning application is expected early next year with approval in mid-2018. Building work should start in early spring 2019 with completion around autumn 2020.

The council is proposing the leisure centre on the artificial hockey pitch at the Garrison Ground at Bar End to replace the ageing River Park Leisure Centre. Its cost is estimated at £36.3 million.

A design team has now been appointed with MACE the project managers, Stride Treglown and LA Architects to design te building, Arup as civil and structural engineers and Hoare Lea as building services engineers.

The council expects the design team to make suggestions but is aware of the dangers of 'project creep' leading to higher cost, complexity and likely delays, said the report by corporate director Steve Tilbury.

The centre is proposed to have an eight-lane 50m pool with a moveable boom and moveable floor, a 20m teaching pool, 12 badminton courts, 180 fitness station as opposed to 120 at River Park and four squash courts, two large studios as well as treatment rooms, hydrotherapy, soft play and a cafe.

Mr Tilbury said the design team would be engaging with the public soon. "The impact of a new sport and leisure centre and the design of such on adjoining residents and for those who will be using the centre cannot be overstated."

Another report on the risks of the scheme raised several problems such as the scheme becoming unviable or funding falling through but were deemed unlikely.

One risk deemed likely but with "low" impact was the stakeholders being dissatisfied with the facilities and seek more consultation even after decisions have been made, leading to delays.