New scaled-down swimming pool plans revealed for Worcester

New swimming pool: £6.5m plan today revealed

New swimming pool: £6.5m plan today revealed

First published in News
Last updated
Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

PLANS for a brand new swimming pool and leisure centre in Worcester costing up to £13 million have been dramatically scrapped - after the city council said it cannot afford it.

But a fresh plan can today be revealed to create a new six-lane facility in the city by building an extra wing onto Perdiswell Leisure Centre.

The project would cost around £6.5 million and include a big refurbishment of the rest of the site, with a new gym part of the package.

Under a new vision for Worcester the beefed-up Perdiswell facility would be complete by the end of next year, around six months earlier than the old proposal.

The controversial move has already led to claims the council is "going in the wrong direction", but bosses at the cash-strapped authority say its financial circumstances have drastically changed since 2011 when the original plans were first outlined.

The Labour leadership, which inherited the old blueprint from the previous Conservative administration last May is blaming funding cuts, rising construction costs and declining leisure centre income as just three reasons for the change of tack.

It also means hopes of creating an eight-lane, competition standard facility, something the city's swimming club has long been calling for, are all but over.

Sansome Walk pool, which has six lanes, will be demolished once the Perdiswell revamp is finished.

Councillor Adrian Gregson, city council leader, said: "This exciting new proposal has many advantages.

"It would be far more affordable, it should mean we are able to build a new pool and have it open before the target date of 2016, and it would mean we could keep the majority of facilities at Perdiswell open while the construction work takes place.

"Increases in the costs of construction and borrowing, and the continuing cuts to Government funding of councils, mean the 'new build' options are no longer affordable."

The Labour-led cabinet is meeting on Tuesday, April 15 where it will be asked to endorse the new plan and rule out old options.

From there, it will go to full council in June for a vote.

The council says if accepted, the majority of facilities at Perdiswell will operate normally while the extension is built.

Once the pool is open the sports hall and other parts of the centre would be refurbished.

The £6.5 million would be borrowed under a 40-year mortgage with an interest rate of 4.4 per cent.

It would come from the Government-backed Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), where rates were just 3.9 per cent in 2011.

Construction costs are up £300 on two years ago, at around £2,300 per square metre, and since then Government grant funding to Worcester is down 50 per cent.

The council also says its leisure centre income is down 15 per cent on last year, citing that as an additional factor.

CITY SWIMMING CLUB HITS OUT AT "UNWELCOME AND TIMID" MOVE

WORCESTER Swimming Club has attacked the new plans as "unwelcome, timid and retrograde".

The body, which represents swimmers across the city, has been campaigning for years to get an eight-lane county-standard pool.

It says competitive swimmers must travel to Wolverhampton or Gloucestershire to take part in events due to Worcestershire's lack of facilities.

Adele Rimell, the chairman, said a petition is now circulating to try and change the council's view.

"This is an unwelcome, timid and retrograde decision that is completely short-termist and lacks any ambition for our city," she said.

"Swimming is a very popular and growing sport in Worcester and this is reflected in a significant increase in local swimming club membership in recent years, with demand for pool use already exceeding capacity.

"Coupled with the growth in population planned for the city, without an eight lane pool there will be an increasing shortfall in the provision of water space that families, schools and clubs have access to.

"The choice of pool facility will have an irrevocable impact upon our city and the decision needs to leave a legacy that will properly serve future generations."

The stance has also been questioned by Worcester Conservatives, with group leader Councillor Simon Geraghty saying he wants cross-party talks.

"We were always aiming for a county-standard facility and this sounds like a level of ambition which is a lot lower," he said.

"We accept any new pool has to be deliverable and that's precisely why we've got a lot of questions.

"If you'd have said five years ago we'd have the Worcester Arena by now (in Hylton Road), people would have said 'nonsense' - that goes to show what is possible if you aim high.

"The city is expanding in size and with that needs to come an ambition, so it's difficult to say whether we will support this or not, we need to consider it carefully.

“Make do and mend is the way I’d describe it.” But Councillor Richard Boorn, cabinet member for finance, said the old proposals were a "fantasy".

Those plans were dependent on a deal with a third party backer, such as a supermarket, building on land at Perdiswell but early interest from a mystery food store last year went nowhere.

"You don't have to be a genius to realise we can't afford what was with us before - it was never deliverable," said Cllr Boorn.

“We have not got that enabling development and we’ve got to get on with plans for a new pool - nobody disagrees we need a new pool but it's got to be one we can afford.

"We've mentioned fantasy budgets before and this is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about."

Comments (12)

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9:21am Tue 1 Apr 14

knick-knack says...

Nowhere, since this farce began, have I seen a mention of how much the land in Sansome Walk will fetch. This is a valuable asset, and I hope that some deal is not being concocted to 'give it away' cheaply.
Nowhere, since this farce began, have I seen a mention of how much the land in Sansome Walk will fetch. This is a valuable asset, and I hope that some deal is not being concocted to 'give it away' cheaply. knick-knack
  • Score: 24

9:45am Tue 1 Apr 14

MrThirsty247 says...

I used to live in Portsmouth and they would of been disgusted if their main swimming pool had 'GREEN' tiles inside the pool. Myself moving to Worcester and seeing that was literally disgusting, adding to the tatty, run down, dark, disappointing and very un-loved swimming pool in Worcester.

Investment should ALWAYS been in leisure, resulting in happy, healthier and more productive people.
I used to live in Portsmouth and they would of been disgusted if their main swimming pool had 'GREEN' tiles inside the pool. Myself moving to Worcester and seeing that was literally disgusting, adding to the tatty, run down, dark, disappointing and very un-loved swimming pool in Worcester. Investment should ALWAYS been in leisure, resulting in happy, healthier and more productive people. MrThirsty247
  • Score: 17

10:02am Tue 1 Apr 14

Guy66 says...

"Construction costs are up £300 on two years ago, at around £2,300 per square metre, and since then Government grant funding to Worcester is down 50 per cent.

The council also says its leisure centre income is down 15 per cent on last year, citing that as an additional factor."

You just could not make this farce up. What a waste of time these people really are. Get on with building good facilities using the capital offered at the time. Don't sit on it and squander the opportunity. Better facilities will result in higher leisure centre income, even a primary school child could work that one out!
"Construction costs are up £300 on two years ago, at around £2,300 per square metre, and since then Government grant funding to Worcester is down 50 per cent. The council also says its leisure centre income is down 15 per cent on last year, citing that as an additional factor." You just could not make this farce up. What a waste of time these people really are. Get on with building good facilities using the capital offered at the time. Don't sit on it and squander the opportunity. Better facilities will result in higher leisure centre income, even a primary school child could work that one out! Guy66
  • Score: 14

10:12am Tue 1 Apr 14

Hwicce says...

If there are all these competition swimmers desperate for an 8-lane pool locally maybe they should put their hands in their pockets and fund it?

No - I thought not.....

Just another case of everyone wants something as long as they don't have to pay for it.
If there are all these competition swimmers desperate for an 8-lane pool locally maybe they should put their hands in their pockets and fund it? No - I thought not..... Just another case of everyone wants something as long as they don't have to pay for it. Hwicce
  • Score: 12

10:26am Tue 1 Apr 14

catnappng says...

It's April Fools Day - but the only joke are our councillors. How shortsighted can you be. The reason leisure takings are down are because the facilities are so poor. The pool itself has green slime at the bottom. A child cut their foot in the pool the other day. This new plan is a plaster to dress an ulcer. Dismal. I will be considering very hard who I vote for in future.

This 8 lane pool does not just serve "competition" swimmers, it would serve the whole community. It would enable schools to make better use of the limited time they have during the school day to teach more children to swim. Or is the council simply not interested in the future of its children. Again, Worcester is the poor relation and the local community let down. They can manage a 6-lane pool but not an 8-lane pool. Would it really be that much more. Ridiculous.
It's April Fools Day - but the only joke are our councillors. How shortsighted can you be. The reason leisure takings are down are because the facilities are so poor. The pool itself has green slime at the bottom. A child cut their foot in the pool the other day. This new plan is a plaster to dress an ulcer. Dismal. I will be considering very hard who I vote for in future. This 8 lane pool does not just serve "competition" swimmers, it would serve the whole community. It would enable schools to make better use of the limited time they have during the school day to teach more children to swim. Or is the council simply not interested in the future of its children. Again, Worcester is the poor relation and the local community let down. They can manage a 6-lane pool but not an 8-lane pool. Would it really be that much more. Ridiculous. catnappng
  • Score: 7

10:43am Tue 1 Apr 14

Worcester Lad says...

I understand that an application is to be submitted to build a new football stadium for W.C.F.C on Perdiswell Where would this go in the plan?
I understand that an application is to be submitted to build a new football stadium for W.C.F.C on Perdiswell Where would this go in the plan? Worcester Lad
  • Score: 9

11:15am Tue 1 Apr 14

catnappng says...

So much for Olympic legacy. Swimming is the one sport that can be enjoyed well into old age - and let's face it we have an aging population whom we need to keep active. Swimming is also one of the most popular pastimes for disabled people. And it''s one of the few sports which isn't dependent on the weather being good!

The trouble is I have to question the calibre of those making the decision. We have no visionaries amongst our councillors it seems. Here we have a massive opportunity squandered to mediocrity.
So much for Olympic legacy. Swimming is the one sport that can be enjoyed well into old age - and let's face it we have an aging population whom we need to keep active. Swimming is also one of the most popular pastimes for disabled people. And it''s one of the few sports which isn't dependent on the weather being good! The trouble is I have to question the calibre of those making the decision. We have no visionaries amongst our councillors it seems. Here we have a massive opportunity squandered to mediocrity. catnappng
  • Score: 1

12:31pm Tue 1 Apr 14

CJH says...

"...the city council said it cannot afford it." I think they meant to say WE can't afford it. Because we would be the ones paying for the construction and maintenance. Put the money back into essential services where it's needed. Or will the council just 'lose' that cash in more unwanted schemes? Back to basics would be a vote winner for me.
"...the city council said it cannot afford it." I think they meant to say WE can't afford it. Because we would be the ones paying for the construction and maintenance. Put the money back into essential services where it's needed. Or will the council just 'lose' that cash in more unwanted schemes? Back to basics would be a vote winner for me. CJH
  • Score: 1

5:48pm Tue 1 Apr 14

Andy_R says...

Any other sporting group would be delighted to get £6.5m of public money spent on their hobby. If the swimmers want more lanes, why don't they start raising funds themselves instead of acting like spoilt brats!
Any other sporting group would be delighted to get £6.5m of public money spent on their hobby. If the swimmers want more lanes, why don't they start raising funds themselves instead of acting like spoilt brats! Andy_R
  • Score: 5

11:54pm Tue 1 Apr 14

Guy66 says...

Both CJH and Andy_R failed to read the article - central government grant to quote

"The £6.5 million would be borrowed under a 40-year mortgage with an interest rate of 4.4 per cent.

It would come from the Government-backed Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), where rates were just 3.9 per cent in 2011.

Construction costs are up £300 on two years ago, at around £2,300 per square metre, and since then Government grant funding to Worcester is down 50 per cent."

A failed opportunity by dithering council!
Both CJH and Andy_R failed to read the article - central government grant to quote "The £6.5 million would be borrowed under a 40-year mortgage with an interest rate of 4.4 per cent. It would come from the Government-backed Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), where rates were just 3.9 per cent in 2011. Construction costs are up £300 on two years ago, at around £2,300 per square metre, and since then Government grant funding to Worcester is down 50 per cent." A failed opportunity by dithering council! Guy66
  • Score: -1

9:58am Wed 2 Apr 14

Marant says...

So, if a 6 lane pool with extensive refurbishment of the attached leisure centre costs £6.5 million, how does an 8 lane pool cost £13 million? That's twice the price for two more lanes.

Why doesn't the council look at an 8 lane pool using the apparently new contractors they have? I refuse to believe that two more lanes will cost £6.5 million more?!
So, if a 6 lane pool with extensive refurbishment of the attached leisure centre costs £6.5 million, how does an 8 lane pool cost £13 million? That's twice the price for two more lanes. Why doesn't the council look at an 8 lane pool using the apparently new contractors they have? I refuse to believe that two more lanes will cost £6.5 million more?! Marant
  • Score: 4

10:16am Wed 2 Apr 14

newike says...

Good, we have the sensible decision to place the pool alongside the Perdiswell centre instead of pulling it down. However two extra lanes will not cost an extra 6 million, and surely the site of the old pool will be worth a lot of money. Will this money help to generate funds for the new pool or will all the costs be from borrowed money ? Before a final decision, please be more transparent and let the public know a little of the different costs between a 6 lane and 8 lane pool. Everything seems to be secret.
Good, we have the sensible decision to place the pool alongside the Perdiswell centre instead of pulling it down. However two extra lanes will not cost an extra 6 million, and surely the site of the old pool will be worth a lot of money. Will this money help to generate funds for the new pool or will all the costs be from borrowed money ? Before a final decision, please be more transparent and let the public know a little of the different costs between a 6 lane and 8 lane pool. Everything seems to be secret. newike
  • Score: 3

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