The £25m redevelopment of Carlisle's Sands Centre has cleared a major hurdle after the city council’s new executive voted the scheme through to the last stage.

The project, developed under the previous Labour administration, has been recommended for approval with the plans due to go before the full council at the end of the month for final consideration.

Darren Crossley, the council’s deputy chief executive, told last night’s meeting of the executive that the project was the cornerstone of the authority’s mission to improve health in the city, adding that it was a necessity because of the ageing leisure facilities.

Council leader John Mallinson said: “We are starting off from a position where the pools are dreadfully out-of-date and the cost of not doing this would be very significant and this is perhaps a one-off opportunity for a development of this kind.

“We have the dual benefit of combining all onto one site in exchange for which Greenwich Leisure will deliver the leisure contract at zero cost, which is a saving in the region of three quarters of a million pounds a year.

“We have the opportunity to borrow at historically low interest rates, certainly a lot less than we saw up to about 10 years ago. Without those two factors, it’s difficult to see how this council could afford this development.

“We do desperately need new swimming facilities. And I think the council has considered this very carefully.”

Members also received assurances from finance chiefs that the council would be free of debt after 25 years, and that the project would “stand alone and deal with itself”.

The meeting also heard that there would no impact on existing services or on council tax, with the money repaid in annual instalments and the debt reducing every year.

Under the plans, the council’s contract with operators Greenwich Leisure Ltd will lead to zero subsidies on the basis that the redevelopment will be completed by August of next year.

Activities will be maintained during the construction of the site, with old Newman School renovated to provide temporary facilities to Sands Centre users.

Council chiefs said not proceeding with the project would ultimately prove more costly than pressing ahead with it once renegotiated subsidies and maintenance costs of the Sands Centre and the Pools were accounted for.

They said that project had been developed after extensive consultation with health bodies, community groups and sporting organisations.

The plans, which have been studied by the council’s scrutiny panels, will go before full council on June 25.

The Sands Centre was flooded in 2015 and officers confirmed that the authority’s own insurers would cover the redeveloped site.

But it was also said that resilience measures included as part of the scheme and elsewhere in the city would reduce the chance of future flooding.