PLANS to build a new multimillion-pound leisure centre in Selby have been approved.

The original Abbey Leisure Centre, in Scott Road, was virtually destroyed by a fire in February last year, and plans for the new centre include two swimming pools, a gym, sauna and steam room.

There will also be a refurbished all-weather sports pitch which will provide new opportunities for local sports clubs.

Selby District Council’s planning committee met last week and approved the planning permission for the two-storey centre, which will be just over half the size of the former centre.

A council report said the reduced size would be due partly to a simple rectangular, competition-standard pool, in place of the previous freeform pool, and better use of space, but admitted there would be a “re-assessment of the facilities to be provided”.

Coun Gillian Ivey, deputy leader of the council, said: “This has been an important step for our new leisure centre, which will deliver first-class facilities for the district. The fire at the old Abbey Leisure site was obviously a huge blow, but it’s also been an opportunity for us to create something brand new and really exciting at the site.”

The council has worked with Wigan Leisure And Culture Trust and national sports body Sport England, to create the re-development proposals.

The council hopes Sport England will make a contribution towards the costs of the new centre – which may cost up to £9 million – with a decision expected next month. Alongside the new leisure centre, the council is also looking at the possibility of offering other leisure facilities at the same site.

These discussions are still at an early stage, but it is though these plans could include a cinema.

Coun Ivey said: “With its range of facilities, this new development will be a real draw for the area, supporting not only those using the new centre but also with a knock on benefit to local businesses too.”

The authority hopes construction will start in November with the new leisure centre to open at Christmas 2014.

The Profile fitness centre, which opened at Portholme Crescent shortly after last year’s fire, still offers a gym and fitness studio, and will continue to run until the new facility is opened.