CONSTRUCTION of a new gym began in Verwood this week.

Drew Construction has started work on the 50-station facility at the town’s community facility, the Hub, as part of a larger scheme to improve sports and fitness provision in the area.

The project is expected to be completed by the middle of May 2013.

An all-weather football pitch at Potterne Park and a new sports hall at Emmanuel Middle School are also part of the programme. The new development comes after supermarket chain Morrisons bought Verwood Leisure Centre in order to expand their current branch.

Verwood Mayor Simon Gibson said: “This is a rare chance to get a new store, plus the leisure facilities at the same time.

“I think the new gym will really benefit the community, but obviously it’s important for the residents to have the new facilities in place before the old ones close.”

Cllr Spencer Flower, leader of East Dorset District Council, said: “These developments will improve the sport and fitness facilities in the district and help us to meet our objectives to improve opportunities for young people in the area to live healthy and successful lives.”

Manager of Verwood Art and Leisure Association Jacqui Sainsbury said: “Over the past 18 months or so, two organisations have come together to lay the foundations in place to deliver sport, leisure, arts and entertainment under one organisation with a new identity brand - Lifestyle.

“Now, as foundations are ready to be laid for the building work, it promises to be an exciting era for Verwood with the new facilities offering such a variety of activities for all ages. It really is great news for everyone.”