A NEW £13 million swimming pool for Worcester has moved a step closer - with the city’s planning chiefs giving it their first thumbs-up.

An outline application has been approved by the planning committee, paving the way for the next phase of the ambitious project.

Under the proposal a new “county standard” facility will be built on land next to the existing Perdiswell Leisure Centre containing an eight lane, 25 metre pool.

It includes 415 parking spaces, a creche, soft play areas, a gym, exercise studios, wet and dry changing rooms, party or exhibition room, cafe and viewing gallery.

Bosses also hope to include a learner pool and ‘confidence water’ for toddlers looking to have a splash for the first time.

During a meeting of the city council’s planning committee this afternoon members unanimously backed it, paving the way for a detailed final application to be voted on once arrangements are made for financing it.

During the debate some politicians called for a careful think over how it will be paid for, amid concerns it could require millions of pounds in borrowing.

The estimates are that it will cost anywhere from £10 million to £13 million.

Councillor Aubrey Tarbuck said: “This has got to be a commercially viable proposition - the citizens of Worcester will be paying for this for years to come, so it has to be right.”

There were concerns raised over parking, with some politicians doubting whether 415 spaces would be enough.

Councillor Alan Amos said: “We’ve got a funny attitude to leisure facilities - when people go to these places they drive there, run up and down on a machine which takes you absolutely nowhere and then drive back.

“Are we really satisfied 415 spaces is enough? If anything this will generate more traffic, not less - we want this pool to be used, and if people can’t get there because there’s nowhere to park, they won’t go.”

During the debate they were also told there would be 45 cycle spaces, buses running by regularly and improvements to the surrounding routes to make them more cycle-friendly.

Councillor Paul Denham said: “To me, the arrangements look pretty good - the county’s highways team has done a lot of work on sustainable travel.”

The committee backed the scheme, but wants the authority to take another look at the re-positioning of the current playground on the site so it does not sit next to the car park.

Under the proposal, the current Perdiswell facility will be demolished once the new facility is open.

Bosses estimate it will open in February 2016, subject to the approval of a business case, final planning approval and the support of a majority of city councillors.