Councillors have voted to approve controversial plans to borrow up to £3.9 million over a 50-year period for a new 3G artificial pitch next to Doric Park at Hilperton.

The total £7.54m cost of the new facility would be funded by income from Wiltshire College & University Centre for sports courses, as well as by Trowbridge RFC, and other rugby and football clubs.

It would give Trowbridge RFC more car parking and provide a pavilion, a gym, a therapy room, meetings rooms and changing facilities, showers and toilets.

In a public consultation on the proposed sports pitch development, 200 people voted for it and 193 against.

At a heated extraordinary council meeting, members gave the go-ahead for the borrowing requirement to help pay for it despite two councillors voting against and several abstaining.

In a private session from which the press and public were excluded, councillors approved the appointment of Beard Construction, the firm that built The Civic Centre, as the main contractor to build the new facility, after its £3.3m tender bid was accepted.

The recommendations are subject to approval of the lease agreement with Trowbridge RFC and approvals of agenda items at a full town council meeting on Tuesday, May 17.

Speaking after the meeting, leader of Trowbridge Town Council, Cllr Stewart Palmen said he thinks that a new £25 million new leisure centre and swimming pool should be built on a greenfield site near Doric Park at Hilperton.

Cllr Palmen says it would “make a lot of sense” to locate the new facility close to Trowbridge Rugby Football Club and the town’s proposed new 3G Artificial Turf Pitch next door.

Cllr Palmen said: “I think Wiltshire Council would ideally want a greenfield site for their leisure centre. It would work out a lot cheaper rather than a down-town site.

“My own personal view is that there is a strong chance it could be wrapped around the rugby club.

“Wiltshire Council are being very coy and have not identified a site but if they wanted to rebuild on the old hospital site it would be pretty close to town and I think that would be too expensive.

“It’s all speculation, but I would like to see a Doric leisure centre with a swimming pool. I think that would make a lot of sense and it would help us to improve transport services to the town centre.”