ROCHFORD District Council is set to move into a leisure centre in order to save £300,000 a year.

The authority is considering moving into the Freighthouse leisure and events centre following a revamp of to provide "modern, more efficient offices for council staff and partners, as well as a chamber for council meetings and a community space".

This would enable the Civic Suite, in Rayleigh, where council meetings are currently held, to be re-developed for residential purposes or alternative use. It is further proposed that the Mill Arts & Events Centre, Rayleigh, would be re-developed with a suitable proportion of the ground floor retained for council and community uses.

The proposals, to be considered by the council’s investment board on January 16, anticipate a reduction of future costs in excess through the regeneration of six of its strategic sites.

The programme would also see its offices in 19 and 57, South Street, re-developed for residential purposes to help meet the local housing need.

George Ioannou, councillor responsible for enterprise, said: "It makes sense for Rochford District Council to review its assets, not only from a financial perspective, but also to ensure we are seeking opportunities to regenerate and revitalise the local area to the benefit of our residents and businesses.

"Therefore, we engaged the services of technical experts to undertake a robust analysis of our six strategic sites, working closely with Councillors and Council officers to meet our objectives.

"The resulting Outline Business Case offers an opportunity to reinvigorate the Rochford District by re-developing these key sites, while also saving in excess of £300,000 a year by reducing our future costs.

The Freight House, in Bradley Way, Rochford, was built in the 1890's. It is situated in a picturesque parkland and is a popular choice as a wedding venue. It is managed by sport and leisure organisation Fusion Lifestyle in partnership with the council.

It is anticipated that the project would be completed by 2023. All facilities within the programme remain open and both the Freight House and The Mill Arts And Events Centre continue to take bookings.