PLANS to build Bewsey and Dallam Community Hub are back on track following fears that failing to deliver it could see the council suffer reputational damage.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the facility was held on the land, off Longshaw Street, in March 2016.

The site – which is proposed to include a fitness suite, library and pool – was originally given a planned opening date of summer 2017.

But Town Hall chiefs have pushed it back to early 2020.

And as the £4.3 million project is facing a £2.2 million shortfall, the council will be required to invest a further £2.2 million on top of the £1 million it has previously committed.

On Monday, the executive board noted the financial implications of borrowing £3.2 million over 25 years and agreed to award, and enter into, a £3,235,152 contract with a contractor.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden believes there is an ‘overwhelming need’ for the facility and highlighted the potential to generate income from the development of new homes in the area.

He said: “Members will recall, I think almost three years ago, the announcement about the council’s investment in Bewsey and Dallam Hub.

“I think it is fair to say that particular area of Warrington is one of our most deprived inner wards and, indeed, for a number of years it has suffered from a lack of investment.

“The council did commit to investing in a new hub and attracted partner funding.

“As time has gone on, we have recognised that the overall business case for Bewsey and Dallam Hub is quite challenging.

“That said, I am of the firm view that not every capital investment we make has to deliver a financial return and sometimes the significant social benefit we get is worth that cost.

“I think this is one of those particular cases.

“I think, reputationally, the council did put forward this scheme and committed to residents we would deliver it, so I am keen for us to take this forward as a first phase.”

Cllr Tony Higgins, executive board member for leisure and community, says ‘the delays are not the council’s fault’.

He added: “The council received criticism for the delays but they were due to the original tender costs coming back too high.

“We are as committed to this today as we were when we announced the plans.

“The hub will also play a vital role in the central regeneration board’s aims.”