New proposals for Swimming in Shrewsbury to be presented to Cabinet
Shropshire Council’s Cabinet will next week (14 December 2020) be asked to agree that a new emerging preferred option for future swimming provision in Shrewsbury be explored in more detail.
If approved this option could deliver swimming in Shrewsbury over two sites with a 25-metre 4-lane pool and an enhanced leisure offer in heart of the town on the Quarry site including a health spa, adventure play area, bistro and fitness stations as part of the Big Town Plan. A new 25-metre 8-lane competition pool would also be installed at Shrewsbury Sports Village to provide a valuable facility for the whole of Shropshire.
The emergence of this option follows a detailed feasibility study into two original options from the Sport England study as agreed by Cabinet in February 2020. It enhances the original two site option and improves the potential commercial offer to customers, such as food and drink, and possible spa facilities.
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.
Cabinet will be asked to allow officers to report to a future Cabinet meeting with final recommendations on the preferred option, with outline design and costs, the outcome of any consultation and a recommended procurement route.
The Cabinet agenda and reports are here.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for culture, leisure, waste and communications, said:
“We’ve committed to retaining swimming provision at the Quarry and officers have been further investigating the ‘split site’ proposals which has seen a new preferred option emerge which I’m pleased has the support of a Cross Party Member Working Group.
“Option 4 looks to meet our strategic objectives and 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.
“Officers will need to carry out further due diligence on the preferred option and Cabinet can then be asked to consider and agree a recommended final option. We hope this will by June 2021.”
Subject to Cabinet approval, officers will take the next steps to investigate the affordability and deliverability of the preferred option and recommend a fully costed and budgeted proposal to Members in the summer with a deliverable programme.
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.
Investment to make Quarry pool COVID secure
This progress follows a £100,000 investment by Shropshire Council to upgrade the air flow systems at the current Quarry Pool to enable to facility to reopen safely for public use.
Prior to Government enforced closure on 5 November, facility users were delighted to see the pool reopen and gave wonderful feedback:
“Went swimming every day this week, a big congratulations to the quarry team for installing the system to allow us to swim under these current restrictions.”
“I came every morning I could this week. It was SO GOOD to be back and the organisation was spot on.”
“Came for a swim yesterday and everyone was spot on. See you when you’re open again.”
Along with the facility operators, Shropshire Community Leisure Trust, the council will reopen the Quarry Pool at the earliest opportunity to provide a safe place for residents to continue to exercise. This investment will allow swimming in Shrewsbury to continue uninterrupted whilst the Council progresses with its longer term plans for improved leisure provision.
- 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, Arbrocultural 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 options
- 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.