A LEISURE centre in Bridgwater is set to close this month - but it will make way for a massive project to offer sports activities to the wider community.

East Bridgwater Leisure Centre at Parkway, which is run by 1610 Leisure, will be closed as of March 29.

The leisure company was renting the building from Bridgwater College Academy, which owns the site, but the school has secured funding to transform the facility into a Sports Development Centre.

A spokesman for 1610 Leisure said: “1610 is saddened to be ending its five year relationship with the school and the local community and are keen to ensure that, despite the planned changes, existing users still have the opportunity to access sports and leisure services in Bridgwater.

“The trust will be working with leisure centre members and user groups to accommodate them at other 1610 leisure centre sites in Bridgwater, such as Trinity Sports and Leisure and Robert Blake and Elmwood Leisure.”

Meanwhile, the centre is being completely refurbished, with new flooring in the sports hall, new changing rooms and an FA-approved 3G pitch, which has a new type of artificial turf surface.

Executive head teacher Peter Elliott told the Mercury: “1610 don't have the same ambitions for the community as us because they are a business. The programme they had didn't open for most of the weekend.

“We have wanted to do this project for a while, and now we have secured the funding to do it through Sport England, the Football Foundation and the Academy's own funds.

“We've consulted with local residents to find the kind of activities they want. The sessions will either be free or very cheap.

“We want to support sports development, focusing on coaching and football, basketball and hockey.

“By improving young people's health, you are improving their happiness and in turn their achievement in school.”

As well as being open to students and the community, the new centre will be available to local sports clubs.

Construction work on the new pitch has begun and it is due to be completed in June. It is not known how soon work to the centre will start, but details will be announced soon.