A report highlighting the options for swimming provision in Whitchurch will be presented to Shropshire Council’s Cabinet later this month.
Whitchurch Swimming Centre has been closed since March 2020 when it became apparent it was impossible to implement Covid-safe measures such as social distancing at the pool, originally built in 1972.
Since then, investigations to identify the cause of an on-going leak at the facility and the practicalities of carrying out repair works show that that the swimming pool defects are such that it will not be able to reopen when national social distancing restrictions are due to be relaxed on 19 July.
This conclusion follows receipt of an extensive and detailed condition survey which was commissioned earlier this year. An additional structural engineer’s report also highlights the need for further extensive remedial works which are not considered cost effective due to inadequate foundations and the age of the building.
Council officers, with the support of consultants, are now considering all future options for the facility, taking into account the practicalities and potential costs of repair to enable the centre to reopen, as well as the costs of providing a new facility.
Councillor Cecilia Motley, Cabinet Member for Communities, Place, Tourism & Transport, said:
“The council is unable to commit to a specific timetable for reopening or replacing the swimming centre until all options have been discussed publicly by Cabinet.
“The pandemic has prevented the investigative work taking place as promptly as we would have liked which is extremely frustrating for us and users of the pool.”
Peter Davis, Leisure Services Manager, said:
“We’re very disappointed that we won’t be able to reopen for the expected relaxation in social distancing. We very much understand the frustrations for local swimmers, clubs and children who have missed their time in the water.
“We must however take a view on what is best for Whitchurch in the long term. The cost of repairs to reinstate the facility and keep it operating safely over the next five years are significant. This is on top of the increasing annual costs of operating such an old building.
“So, it is vital that Cabinet consider all options, including a replacement facility, to give best value for Whitchurch from any investment. Final plans for the centre will depend on the results of a needs assessment and feasibility work and will be subject to wider community consultation before any final decision.”