Stevenage could get a new £45m sports centre and a heritage centre celebrating its history as a New Town under plans unveiled by the council.

The new £2.9m heritage centre will be based within the town centre, and is designed to “celebrate the importance of new towns”, while the leader of Stevenage Borough Council hopes the new sports centre will attract visitors to the town.

The proposals are two of 10 regeneration projects that will be part-funded by a grant awarded from central government’s Towns Fund after the council was awarded £37.5m last year.

Following the successful bid, the borough council’s executive is now approving business cases for each scheme, and has today backed plans to move the new sports and heritage hubs a step closer.

The Stevenage Sport and Leisure Hub is the most expensive project to be funded through the grant, and will include a new 10-lane swimming pool and teaching pool, as well as a 200-station gym and health and wellness spa in one facility.

The new centre is also proposed to include a splash zone, squash courts, and eight sports halls on the site of the current swimming centre.

The plans, which will still need to be granted planning permission, will be funded through £10m from the Town’s Fund pot with an additional £29.2m from the borough council and £5m from other public sector spending.

The council has said the scheme will also unlock space for 200 homes in the town centre, while the demolition of the current leisure centre could help improve the welcome to Stevenage from the railway station.

No timescale has been set for the project, but a council report estimates funding will be required beyond 2026.

During Wednesday’s meeting, councillors also confirmed that the town will retain the Gordon Craig Theatre, either in its current location or on a new site.

The second scheme backed by councillors during the meeting will also see Stevenage, the country’s first New Town, become the home of the National New Town’s Heritage Centre.

The Comet: The New Towns heritage centre will be based in a new town centre Civic HubThe New Towns heritage centre will be based in a new town centre Civic Hub (Image: StevenageEvenBetter/Stevenage Borough Council)

The centre will include a modern cultural, arts, heritage and education centre as well as a flexible space for performances, events and leisure activities.

The centre will be part of the new town centre Civic Hub and sit alongside the library, council offices and health services.

£2m of the project will be funded through the Towns Fund grant, with the borough council contributing just over £900,000.

Leader of Stevenage Borough Council Sharon Taylor said: “These projects are fundamental to our vision for the regeneration of Stevenage town centre and bringing benefits for our residents.

“There’s so much to be proud about and our legacy and pioneering spirit will be recognised within the spaces, which we will be enriching with cultural experiences.

“The provision of new sports facilities will widen our offer and help to improve health and wellbeing. These plans will additionally help our businesses, with greater footfall within the town centre to support our local economy.”

“Stevenage is going through exciting transformation, and our residents sit at the heart of this. We are leading a period of change that will celebrate our legacy whilst creating a modern, diversified town centre offering something for everyone.”

Adrian Hawkins, chair of the Stevenage Development Board, said : “These proposals will enhance the culture and sport and leisure offer in Stevenage and the Stevenage Development Board supports this investment that brings innovative spaces to maximise the opportunities for local people.”

The council is currently working through business cases for the Town’s Fund projects, ahead of a March 24 deadline.

Other projects to be funded from the fund include a Stevenage Enterprise Centre, a new Innovation and Technology Centre and investment into a town centre Garden Square.