ONE of Hampshire’s most popular leisure centres is to be demolished and rebuilt, it was announced last night.

Eastleigh Borough Council has unveiled plans to replace Fleming Park Leisure Centre with a bigger building and better facilities on the site.

Proposals include a larger main pool – up from six lanes to eight – larger learner pool, expanded and improved gym facilities and improved restaurant.

There will also be a more health and beauty facilities at the Eastleigh centre.

The council aims to have the ambitious new project complete for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The existing building in Passfield Avenue, which has around a million visitors a year, dates back to the 1970s.

Council leader Keith House, who announced the plans at last night’s full council meeting, said the decision to pursue a rebuild came from weighing up the cost to repair the current building, which might only add ten to 15 years to its lifespan, against a modern building.

He said a new leisure centre would be more efficient and have better facilities that will draw more people in so that the extra income generated as a result of a new building would, in the long term, repay its cost.

“That’s a better deal for Eastleigh taxpayers. It won’t cost them a penny.”

However, Cllr House refused to disclose the costings at this stage.

He said the actual size of the building would not be significantly different as the layout would be more efficient, whereas the current building has been added to over time.

Parking would remain free.

Although the project has been discussed in the last year, these are the first concrete proposals for debate.

A business case will be brought before cabinet in November then, if approved, work will begin on putting together a planning application.

Cllr House said DC Leisure, which has a contract to run the leisure centre, was supportive of the plans.