Milestone decision for Ulverston leisure development

Last Updated: 9 February 2022

9 February 2022

The first phase of moves to develop multi-million pound leisure facilities in Ulverston has been given the go-ahead.

South Lakeland District Council's Cabinet today approved the latest milestone on the journey towards replacing the ageing facilities at Priory Road in Ulverston, run by leisure provider GLL on behalf of SLDC.

Phase one will include relocating three football pitches, the crown green bowling green and an informal running route from the GSK site, releasing land for potential future employment use, as well as remodelling the indoor tennis centre and additions to changing facilities.

This is estimated to cost in the region of £2m and will be enabled by a financial contribution from GSK, with work taking 12 to 15 months to complete once started on site.

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, portfolio holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: "I am delighted that work can start on phase 1 of this massively exciting project, which will have wide-ranging benefits for Ulverston and the district as a whole – securing top-class facilities to promote participation in active lifestyles and promoting club and volunteer opportunities, as well as reducing health inequalities, but also potentially improving employment prospects by enabling the release and repurposing land at GSK for business use."

"Developing phases 2 and 3 will require a great deal of further work over the coming months and years but South Lakeland District Council is committed to continuing that development work and ensuring first-rate leisure facilities in Ulverston for many years to come."

Further project development work is required before phases 2 and 3 can be progressed.

Phase 2 would include: the provision of a new 25-metre, six-lane swimming pool adjoining the tennis centre, car parking remodelling, and further internal work to the tennis centre, with an estimated cost of £5.4m.

Two courts in the tennis centre would continue to be exclusively used for tennis, one court would be repurposed as a multi-sport sports hall, capable of continued use for tennis as required, and one court would be repurposed as a 60-station gym facility with studio.

Phase 3 would include refurbishment of the existing all-weather hockey pitch and refurbishment of the outdoor tennis courts, with an estimated cost of £300,000.

The report to Cabinet can be found here (item 18):


SLDC and GLL have been developing plans for a new leisure centre and facilities on the site, which were initially informed by GSK’s plans to relocate its sports centre as part of a proposed redevelopment of its site on North Lonsdale Road.

GSK announced in July 2017 that it would not be proceeding with its planned new biopharm development and would be looking to sell that part of its business which is based at the Ulverston site, a decision that also had a significant bearing on the future of the new sports centre project.

Discussions continued between the council and GSK and the company confirmed it would still contribute significant financial support of £2 million to the sports centre plans.

That funding commitment meant the project was still viable, although the scale and affordability of the proposal has had to be revised and the projected overall budget reduced.

Nearly 1,000 residents and members of local sports clubs and groups representing 1,200 members responded to a consultation at the end of 2016 on the original proposals to redevelop the leisure facilities in Ulverston.

The responses showed overwhelming support for the principle of investing in improved facilities in Ulverston and a consultants’ report concluded there was demonstrative evidence that clubs could grow and increase sports and health participation with better facilities.

Studies have also established that new facilities could be successfully developed at Priory Road and would contribute to SLDC’s Council Plan priorities to improve residents’ health and wellbeing, support the local economy and improve the environment.