A NEW sports centre and swimming pool at Westminster Lodge could be being built as soon as December and be open in only two years, the district council has announced.

The authority, which controversially gave itself planning permission for a replacement sports centre last month, is about to put the project out to tender and hopes to appoint a building contractor in October.

Council leader Robert Donald said: “I am delighted that the development of a new leisure centre at Westminster Lodge can now go ahead.  Of course further discussions will need to take place now with other partners to ensure the smooth implementation of the project. 

"This leisure centre will provide a really top quality, state of the art, new facility which generations of St Albans residents can enjoy for years to come.

"All being well, it will be open in time to coincide with the 2012 Olympics.” 

The existing leisure centre will stay open while its replacement is built alongside it, until it is ready for opening in the late spring of 2012, when the old building will be demolished and the site landscaped.

Councillor Sheila Burton, cabinet member for sport, said: “The people of the district have waited a long time for a decent leisure facility in the city and I am proud that at last we have it in our sights."