A new swimming centre could be built in Whitchurch under plans going before Shropshire Council’s Cabinet.
Six options will be put before the Cabinet at next week’s meeting into the future of Whitchurch Swimming Centre, which has been closed since the start of the pandemic.
Councillors are recommended to select option six, which would see a new centre built, with a six lane 25m pool with a movable floor, a 35-station fitness suite, a dance studio and a café with 20 covers.
The development of a new leisure facility on the current site also has the potential to co-locate the town’s library within the development, and it is being recommended that this be considered in more detail as part of any additional feasibility study agreed for the site.
It should be noted that if co-locating the library emerges as part of the preferred option, a specific public consultation on this will be required.
Councillor Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place, tourism and transport said:
“Everyone is disappointed that Whitchurch Swimming Centre has been unable to reopen – a situation that is not going to change, even with the relaxation of social distancing measures.
“Sadly, the pool has inadequate foundations; further cracking and lifting of tiles to the pool and pool surround will continue to occur, and it is just not cost effective to keep repairing it.
“We have six options going before Cabinet and we are recommending that Cabinet backs option six – a new alternative build.
“This will be hugely beneficial to the town, will encourage increased participation in physical activity, and deliver increased health benefits, both physical and mental, to more people.”
The Council’s Cabinet will also be told that the new build options will also provide a facility with a life expectancy of up to 50 years, as opposed to the maintenance of the existing facility which will have only limited impact on extending the serviceable life of the centre.
If Cabinet back the recommendation, it will be delegated to the executive director of place to begin a feasibility study and carry out due diligence.
Whitchurch Swimming Centre has been closed since March 2020 when it became apparent it was impossible to implement COVID-19-safe measures such as social distancing at the pool, originally built in 1972.
Since then, investigations to identify the cause of an ongoing 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 Monday 19 July 2021.
This conclusion follows receipt of an extensive and detailed condition survey that 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.