Plans for a new leisure and community centre in Morpeth, received unanimous approval at the first ever virtual Northumberland County Council planning committee.

The new facility will replace the current Riverside Centre, which is no longer considered fit for purpose. It will feature a six-lane pool, learner pool, spectator gallery, spa facilities, a sports hall, a gym/fitness suite, a café area, soft play area, as well as a library, customer services and adult learning services.

Liam Hudspith, Project Manager at Advance Northumberland said: “I am delighted to confirm that the planning application for Morpeth Leisure Centre was approved on 2nd June by virtual Planning Committee. It was quite a historic decision as this is Northumberland County Council’s first virtual planning approval. Committee members were very supportive and complimentary of the scheme. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the team for their hard work in achieving this key milestone.”

Working with Henry Riley, DPP, GT3 Architects and Buro Happold, OOBE Ltd provided the landscape designs, for what promises to be a new destination hub and high-quality leisure facility for the town.

Iain Wakefield, OOBE Ltd senior landscape architect explained: “Key to the project was the creation of an exciting set of flexible spaces to address the flooding issues faced in 2008. Our design incorporates a boulevard which sweeps along the riverfront before rising up to the entrance plaza, providing fantastic views of the River Wansbeck and beyond.”

OOBE has adopted a blue-green infrastructure to create a design that works with the environment. Mature trees form an important part of the site’s character and will provide shelter and shade for the proposed sunken library garden. This will offer a quiet and relaxing place to enjoy reading a book and will feature raised walls using repurposed bricks from former site buildings.