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Cabinet asked to approve permanent closure of Regional Pool and kick start plans for a brand-new swimming facility

01 March 2024

A report going before the council’s Cabinet meeting later this month will recommend the permanent closure of the Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre and seeks support to develop plans for a brand-new swimming and leisure facility.

The centre on Bishops Road has been closed since last September following works to remove asbestos and then the discovery of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). Prior to that, the pool was closed on two occasions last year after Legionella was found in the water system.

The report to Cabinet sets out that it would cost in the region of £26m to be able to remove the RAAC and remedy a number of issues associated with the age of the building to ensure it could be operational for the next decade.

The costs are broken down as follows;

  • £11.5m for the removal of the RAAC and rectifying issues including with the water system, the mechanical and electrical equipment associated with the running and heating of the pool and in terms of ensuring the building has correct fire breaks to limit the spread of fire.
  • £15m for a full refurbishment of the whole site including swimming pools and changing rooms to bring the centre up to a modern fit for purpose standard.

Alternatively, it is estimated it would cost in region of £30m to deliver a brand-new pool and leisure centre for the city. This indicative cost would include a new 8-lane 25m pool, teaching pool, splash pool, café, sports hall, studio spaces, large gym offering, clip and climb facilities and soft play and family area. It is estimated that a new facility could open in 2028.

Cabinet members will be presented with a detailed report at their meeting on 11 March, setting out the current state of repair for the pool, the works that are needed for it to reopen for the longer term and associated costs, and options for a new pool.

It is recommended that Cabinet members agree to fully decommission the Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre and authorise its demolition owing to the investment needed to allow it to reopen, and instead invest in a new facility.

Councillor John Howard, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Finance, said: “The future of the Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre and swimming provision in general in the city has been an issue we have prioritised since taking control of the council last November, knowing how important it is to residents.

“As a result, officers have taken the time to carefully consider the options available to us, based on the age of the building and the issues it is presenting and understanding the long overdue need for a new facility which better meets the city’s needs.

“It is for this reason Cabinet members are recommended to close the Regional permanently and instead invest in a brand-new facility which will serve the city well for decades to come and will attract people from far and wide. That must be our aspiration, rather than placing a sticking plaster on what we have already.

“We want residents to be able to understand the decision we are facing and that is why the report is as detailed as it is, including the various costs.

“We are also doing all that we can to bolster the number of swimming sessions available, including expanding use of the pool at Jack Hunt and extending the Lido season last year.”

Cabinet members will be asked to support alternative arrangements for residents to be able to access swimming pools.

One of the interim arrangements put in place by the council’s leisure provider Peterborough Ltd is using the pool at Stanground Academy. Peterborough Ltd is now operating swimming lessons on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Other swimming provision includes:

  • The Lido - season extended to December 2023 and this proved to be popular. The season has been extended in recent years and this approach will continue.
  • Jack Hunt Pool is providing extra capacity for swim clubs, lessons and public swimming.

The Cabinet meeting will take place on Monday 11 March at 4pm.It is a public meeting and therefore people can attend in person or watch live on the council’s YouTube page.