PLANS to redevelop land next to Malvern Splash as a sports hall should be abandoned, according to Priory ward councillor Roger Hall-Jones who has outlined an ambitious alternative.

Coun Hall-Jones, whose ward takes in the Splash, says the sports hall is in the wrong location and offers no room for expansion in the future.

He says a site should be sought closer to Malvern's youth population, in the Link, Langland or Barnards Green area and has suggested a joint project with Worcestershire County Council's Youth Service.

It would involve demolishing the current youth centre in Albert Road North and selling the site for housing, freeing extra money to finance the cash-strapped project.

Coun Hall-Jones has already outlined the proposal in a letter to MHDC's Executive Board, which has ordered council officers to look at options for closing the hole in the finances of the existing Priory Road project.

Planning permission has already been given for the scheme and MHDC has set aside £1.3 million from the proceeds of the sale of the district's council houses. It has also secured an offer of a further £500,000 from SLM, the operators of the Splash.

Despite this, the lowest tender for the job has come in at more than £2.3 million and talks are on-going about bridging the gap.

Coun Hall-Jones said the council should ring-fence the £1.3m to fulfil its promise to the people of Malvern to provide new sports facilities and investigate the youth centre option.

"We have a youth centre, it's a dreadful eyesore in a conservation area, it's a prime site, it should produce a very good capital receipt," he said.

Coun Hall-Jones said he believed local residents would be happy to see the centre gone and accept a good quality housing scheme.

He said the alternative scheme offered a better located centre, the potential for expansion and retain the benefit of the Splash scheme, a joint management contract for two venues, reducing management costs.

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