Two options for future swimming provision in Shrewsbury to be considered
Shropshire Council’s Cabinet will next week (12 February 2020) be asked to agree that two options for future swimming provision in Shrewsbury are taken forward for a full feasibility study – before a final recommended option is agreed.
The options are, to deliver all swimming provision at the Quarry site, as well as some additional health and wellbeing facilities; and to deliver swimming provision in Shrewsbury over a split site, with a health, leisure and wellbeing centre on the Quarry site and a competition pool at Shrewsbury Sports Village.
They are being proposed following a detailed study carried out and funded by Sport England into the optimum facilities mix required to meet the long-term health and wellbeing of the Shrewsbury and wider Shropshire population.
Two other options – to do nothing, and to replace the existing facility like for like – have both been ruled out.
Cabinet will be asked to allow council officers to provide a report at a future Cabinet meeting highlighting final recommendations on the preferred option, with outline design and costs, the outcome of any consultation and a recommended procurement route.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said:
“We’ve committed to retaining swimming provision at the Quarry, and it’s now a case of exploring all of the options for doing this before we agree how. The Sport England report is really thorough and made for really interesting reading, and I was pleasantly surprised by the proposed ‘split site’ option.
“Based on its ability to meet our strategic objectives, the split site option looks to tick the most boxes, but we need to test if this is deliverable and affordable, and look at both options in more detail to understand their relative costs, their ability to generate income for the council – and to reduce our current subsidy.
“Once officers have carried out the due diligence work on both of these options, Cabinet can be asked to consider and agree a recommended final option. We hope this will be before the end of this year.”
Subject to Cabinet approval, work on the detailed feasibility into the deliverability and affordability of the two options will be carried out over the next few months. This will involve site due diligence, outline designs and cost schedules for both options.
A review into the impact of putting the competition pool at the Sports village will be undertaken immediately.
The report says that a new competition pool at the Sports Village would attract users to the facility whose needs are currently not provided for and that a pool would provide a modern fit for purpose use that is accessible to a larger population of Shropshire.
Shropshire Council currently subsidises the Sports Village and increasing the attractiveness and mix of uses there would help to make this a sustainable facility in the future.
The involvement of Sport England in the next stages will be key alongside other stakeholders including Energize and Swim England, interest groups, and the facility operator.
1. The Sport England study
Strategic Leisure were appointed by Sport England and have worked on the insight and feasibility for the last nine months. This included discussions with key stakeholders, in order to establish their priorities, establishing the shared strategic objectives, researching the wider health fitness and wellbeing needs of the people of Shropshire and Shrewsbury and an options appraisal.
The facilities mix proposed, based on the outcomes of the study, explores not only swimming for fitness and leisure, but also wider health and wellbeing activities, a spa and an improved food offering and linking with health partners to deliver complimentary health services and social prescribing.
It also has the potential to create a town centre destination for leisure in support of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan.
2. The strategic objectives for swimming in Shrewsbury – based on the research and discussions with stakeholders and the opportunities identified – are:
- To create a destination offer in the town centre.
- To address wider health needs and take the opportunity to work with partners to deliver wider health benefits.
- Investment in high quality facilities to increase participation, across the community in physical activity.
- To retain the opportunity to swim in the town centre.
- To improve the fitness offer in the town centre.
- To consider the benefits of also providing swimming facilities and improving the sports offer at the Sports Village.
- To consider provision of a spa, leisure water, improved food and beverage offer and multi-purpose space, in the Quarry.
- To co-locate other services and provision with swimming and fitness in the town centre.
- To provide a hub facility in the town centre, which will be used by both residents and visitors to the town.
- Take advantage of the opportunity to link with the wider open space and encourage active travel (cycling, walking etc).
- Support for the delivery of wider health services, collocated with swimming and fitness.
- All Shropshire Council swimming facilities to be operationally sustainable in the long term.
- To contribute to Shropshire Council’s environmental sustainability targets.
The Quarry site provides an excellent opportunity to address a large number of those priorities, due to its location in the heart of the town, but that location also brings constraints.