New proposals for future swimming provision in Shrewsbury to be explored further
Shropshire Council’s Cabinet has agreed that a new emerging preferred option for future swimming provision in Shrewsbury should be explored in more detail.
Officers will now take the next steps to investigate the costs and deliverability of the preferred option. Next steps will include the Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA) stage 2 concept design, following which a budgeted proposal and timescales for delivery will be recommended to members for consideration in summer 2021.
The new preferred option will keep swimming and fitness facilities in the heart of Shrewsbury town centre at the current Quarry site and also add swimming facilities at the Shrewsbury Sports Village:
- Quarry – 25-metre 4-lane pool with moveable floor, leisure pool, fitness facilities, dance studios, soft play and cafe in the heart of the town, with investigations to explore including complementary commercial facilities, which could include a health spa and indoor adventure play as part of the Big Town Plan.
- Shrewsbury Sports Village – New 25-metre 8-lane competition pool and a 17- metre x 10 – metre learner pool.
The emerging preferred option would see the demolition of the current outdated facility and rebuilding of a new high quality, sustainable Quarry Pool and leisure facility at the current site as approved by Cabinet at its meeting on 13 February 2019.
Current facilities at Shrewsbury Sports Village would not be affected under the new preferred option, but enhanced with the addition of the new pool.
The dual site option, with a mix of swimming and other facilities at both sites, provides an opportunity to increase and improve access to the facilities for communities across Shrewsbury and Shropshire.
The new option has been recommended by a cross-party Member Working Group as the emerging preferred option, based on the studies undertaken to date.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for culture, leisure, waste and communications, said:
“The council is committed to keeping swimming provision at the Quarry site. This option includes providing swimming provision across two sites making access to facilities easier for more people across Shropshire and the region not just Shrewsbury.
“Option 4 looks to meet our strategic objectives which could see new swimming pools built; at the Quarry and Shrewsbury Sports Village. It gives us an opportunity to transform the Quarry site into a quality, sustainable and energy efficient leisure destination that promotes positive physical and mental health and wellbeing while also improving the leisure offer at Shrewsbury Sports Village, including the provision of a competition pool which will provide for a Shropshire wide swimming facility.
“Officers will now carry out further due diligence on the new preferred option and Cabinet can then be asked to consider and agree a recommended final option in summer 2021. This will be followed by a public consultation.”
A key priority for Shropshire Council and its partners is to improve health and wellbeing at all stages of life, and increasing participation in physical activity across the community is crucial to this. Our goal to invest in a high-quality leisure destination offer in the town centre that retains the opportunity to swim, as well as further developing the leisure offer at the Sports Village will improve access and has the potential to provide a Shropshire-wide swimming facility.
Increasing the attractiveness and mix of uses at the Sports Village would help to make this a more sustainable facility in the future.
This progress follows a £100,000 investment by Shropshire Council to upgrade the air flow systems at the current Quarry Pool, plus investment into other Shropshire facilities including Market Drayton Leisure Centre, to enable to them to reopen safely for public use.
For more information about the proposals and to see the Cabinet report, visit the Shropshire Council website.
- Emergence of Option 4 – Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stage 1 Feasibility Study
This is a key piece of work which provides evidence of the capacities and capabilities of the Quarry Swimming Centre and Sundorne Sports Village sites. Surveys, including Topographical, Arboriculture and services, were also commissioned to inform the Stage One study. The study provides indicative capital cost estimates for the facility mix options being considered.
Running in conjunction with the RIBA study, Strategic Leisure Ltd was commissioned to develop indicative revenue modelling figures for each of the options.
The RIBA study considered in detail the original options 3 and 4 from the Sport England study but It should be noted that as the RIBA Feasibility study has progressed a further two options have been identified which enhance the original dual site option. The options considered by the study are shown in Table 1 below. Option 1 (original Option 3) essentially involves swimming provision solely at the Quarry. Options 2 (original Option 4) involves dual site swimming at both the Quarry and Sundorne Sports Village. Options 3 and 4 are enhancements on Option 2. Both new options 3 and 4 include a 25-metre x 4 lane training pool with moveable floor which recognises the flexibility of use that the Quarry site currently provides for and comments received in the original public consultation exercise This proposed 25 metre pool can provide for club training, lane swimming and provision of swimming lessons in the town centre. The new option 4 as set out in the Table 1 below, also includes an increased commercial offer such as a health spa and indoor adventure play facility.
- The strategic objectivesfor swimming in Shrewsbury – based on the research and discussions with stakeholders and the opportunities identified – are:
- To create a leisure destination offer in the town centre.
- To address wider health needs and take the opportunity to work with partners to deliver wider health benefits at all stages of life.
- Investment in high quality facilities to increase participation, across the community in physical activity.
- To develop a high-quality leisure destination offer, including swimming and fitness, that is cost effective, meets the needs of residents and is in line with the Leisure Facilities Strategy 2020-2038 and the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan.
- To retain the opportunity to swim in the town centre.
- To improve the fitness offer in the town centre.
- All Shropshire Council swimming facilities to be operationally sustainable in the long term.
- To ensure the new developments positively contribute to Shropshire Council’s environmental sustainability, carbon neutral targets and encourage users to adopt active travel, such as cycling and walking, to access them.
- To explore further opportunities for additional income generation from other facilities as part of the leisure destination offer e.g. bistro, café etc., and how the facility can link with the wider Quarry open space and assets.
- To include leisure/fun water in any re-development to create a destination leisure venue for residents and visitors and confirm that this is important to engage people in leisure activities and physical activity who may not traditionally engage in a more formal swimming offer.
- To ensure the continued availability of swimming provision in Shrewsbury throughout any redevelopment plans.
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.