FRESH proposals to turn a disused leisure centre into a religious retreat have been recommended for refusal again by Newport City Council.

Plans to convert Underwood Leisure Centre in Llanmartin into a community and conference facility were turned down by councillors last June.

Concerns had been raised over parts of the centre being used for accommodation for an onsite caretaker and visitors to the proposed facility.

In 2014, the centre was also found to be the site of a major drugs operation, with police recovering more than 2,600 cannabis plants worth £1.6 million from inside.

But GLY Organisation, the owners of the building since 2016, have submitted a new bid to redevelop the abandoned building.

A report says that the applicant insists the caretaker accommodation is necessary as without it, the building would be subject to further vandalism.

They argue that the caretaker would also provide surveillance over the adjacent council-funded play area.

According to the group the four residential suites planned on the first floor of the centre would not be a “permanent place of residence”.

The report reads: “The facility would be run largely by volunteers who may have come from afar given that the applicant is Korean and is expecting support from Korean Church Groups who may require overnight accommodation.

“The applicant wishes, on limited occasions, to hold Christian gatherings. The speakers and/or special guests would be invited to stay in the rooms on the first floor.”

The report adds that the accommodation, if found to be secondary to the principal community use, could be acceptable “in principle” and in line with council policy.

But the suites remain an issue with planners, who wrote: “The number of suites is considered to be excessive.

“In terms of floor space alone, the suites account for most of the enlarged first floor area of the building.”

The application will be discussed by the council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

To view the plans, visit