A new public swimming pool and sports facilities look set to be build in Werrington in an exciting £14 million project.
Peterborough City Council has revealed plans to construct a six to eight lane 25m pool which will be based in a new two storey leisure building near the existing Werrington Leisure Centre, which is run by Vivacity.
The centre would also include:
. a new indoor sports hall
. new indoor sports courts
. a new fitness area containing a minimum of 120 stations and two studios, but possibly three
. a new public library and a café/reception.
A new floodlit full size 3G football pitch is also part of the plans, as well as a new car park.
The scheme is still at an early stage with no funding or start date agreed, but a report from the council suggests the skate park in Werrington is an option for the new complex, which will be near both Ken Stimpson Community School and William Law C of E Primary School.
Plans were submitted to the council earlier this year to increase Ken Stimpson by two forms of entry.
The existing sports hall and squash courts would remain in use for residents to use if the new facilities are built.
Werrington city councillors have welcomed the new sports and leisure plans, in particular for the new swimming pool which they feel has been a long time coming.
Werrington First representative Cllr John Fox said he was “over the moon” and even claimed that back when he first became a councillor in 2002 he was receiving messages from residents about the need for a swimming pool in the area.
He added: “It’s well overdue. When Werrington was built there was a promise of a swimming pool, then it never happened.
“There’s a big sports complex south of the river but we need a swimming pool in the north.
“I will be one of the first people to join. If there are any objections they will need to have very good reasons and will upset residents of Werrington. The majority of residents in Werrington want it.
“If we have to take the skate park away we have to take it away.
“This is brilliant news. Let’s hope it goes through and there are no problems.”
Cllr Stephen Lane, leader of the Werrington First group, said: “I am supportive of the Werrington concept and look forward to the day it may be realised.
“More accessible sports and leisure, especially for swimming, will be a fantastic boost for everyone.
“Everything crossed for a positive outcome and let’s hope things can move forward thereon.”
The council is in the process of drawing up a masterplan for the scheme, but no work can get underway until the council cabinet budgets for the project.
The authority’s own report which highlights the plans indicates that an estimated £14 million would need to be set aside for the development, with £2 million coming from Sport England which invests money from the Government.
The remainder of the £12 million would come from the council’s capital budget, which can only be spent on infrastructure projects, and not from its revenue budget which is spent on services such as adult social care.
The council was asked if the new facilities would be managed by Vivacity, and what would happen to the existing facilities such as Werrington Library, but it said no decisions have been taken yet.
The report also indicates plans to refurbish or rebuild the Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre in Bishop’s Road which could see an extra lane added in the pool, allowing for national competitions.
There would also be a new indoor sports hall and sports courts and a new café and reception facilities.
The works, if approved, would cost an estimated £6 million, with £1 million of that funded from Sport England.
The Peterborough Telegraph has previously revealed that the Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre will be redeveloped once the new nearby campus for the University of Peterborough is created.
The university is scheduled to be up and running by the autumn of 2022.
Cllr Steve Allen is the cabinet advisor to council leader Cllr John Holdich and has responsibility for culture and leisure.
Speaking about the Werrington plans, he said: “We need more places with water in the city, that goes without saying. This is the right location for it - I think it’s perhaps long overdue.
“To take that facility out there gives us a balance of water in the city.”
Last November calls went out from city councillors to invest in an Olympic sized swimming pool - a 50m pool with eight to 10 lanes and a 25m swim down pool.
However, Cllr Holdich has ruled out the possibility of such a pool being invested in anytime soon (see sidebar).
Cllr Allen said: “I’m sure we all want to train up the Olympians. I do think we should have it as an aspiration, but the important thing is to have places for people to swim across the city. Maybe at some stage in the future, with a growing city, we may have an opportunity to reconsider a 50m pool.”
But Labour’s shadow cabinet member for culture and leisure Cllr Ansar Ali has expressed his disappointment at the refusal to invest in an Olympic-sized pool.
He said: “I feel we are not keeping pace with other cities up and down the country.
“It would be good for Peterborough and the profile of the city. It’s about putting our city on the map.
“And it’s invest to save. I want people to go to Peterborough to spend their money. It’s something I will be pushing for.”
‘Not enough evidence’ for 50m pool
There is “not enough evidence” for a 50m pool in Peterborough, according to the leader of the city council.
Cllr John Holdich said both himself and the Active Advice Steering Group (made up of representatives from across Peterborough) had reviewed the evidence for a 50m pool, but added: “The evidence shows that the city is short of one 25m pool and that this should be located in the north of the city to support unrepresented users.”
One of the councillors wanting a 50m pool is Park ward Labour member Cllr Richard Ferris who believes it would bring in money, benefit the “superb, high-achieving” City of Peterborough Swimming Club and attract students to the new University of Peterborough. He added: “This is a huge missed opportunity. I am extremely disappointed - once again - at the lack of vision.”