Heltwate School have confirmed they want the space provided by the St George’s Hydrotherapy pool to expand their site.
The hydrotherapy pool has been threatened with permanent closure after a decision from Peterborough City Council to ‘mothball’ the facility was made earlier this year.
The council were in negotiations to sell the pool, but pulled out at a late stage, saying the sale would not provide value for money, and the building could be needed by neighbouring Heltwate School.
In an email sent to all city councillors last night, council leader Wayne Fitzgerald included an email from head teacher of the special school, Adam Brewster, who said the school would like the building housing the pool for extra space.
Mr Brewster said: “We feel incredibly strongly that it would be a missed opportunity if Heltwate school could not benefit from the additional space of the hydrotherapy pool site.”
He added: “Presently St. George’s hosts our older students mostly with moderate disability, each year the complexity of need increases. On health and safety grounds as the severe needs come through, we are going to need to reduce the numbers who can attend and without additional space I am unsure where these students will go. With the increase in complexity, we need more specialist resources, staff facilities, parking, outdoor space. We already have more students on site than the building was designed for.
“The building could very easily be converted to give us some specialist facilities. It could house 2 large teaching spaces or an appropriate sensory hall, provide some PE space, break out rooms, community areas, work experience, alternative provision etc. This in turn would go some way towards compensating for the lack of outdoor space. It would certainly help make St. George’s more fit for purpose.
“Looking at the new White Paper and the proposed SEND review I think Heltwate and the City need this site to help meet expectations. It could enable us to meet the new curriculum expectations particularly around PE and Music. Alternative provision is difficult to access, it could provide opportunities. I think it would help the authority place the more complex young people which often must be placed out of authority. This has been evidenced this year.”
The council decision has caused controversy with a number of councillors and pool users campaigning to keep the hydrotherapy pool open. An online petition set up to try and save the pool has already attracted more than 700 signatures.
Opposition councillors sent a letter to cllr Fitzgerald asking a number of questions regarding the collapse of the sale of the pool, asking for answers before last week’s elections. Cllr Fitzgerald said answers were being worked on, and would be available by a council meeting on May 23.
While the St George’s pool is threatened with closure, a Peterborough GP, Dr Neil Modha, revealed plans to build a new hydrotherapy pool in the city last month. No further updates on the plans have been provided.