Shropshire Star

MP's shopping centre solution to Shrewsbury swimming pool woes

Could Shrewsbury's stalled shopping centre project be the unlikely saviour for Shropshire's swimmers?

An artist’s impression of the planned £150m New Riverside development in Shrewsbury

That was the suggestion being made today by the town's MP Daniel Kawczynski, who has put forward the site as one possible answer to the "$64 million question" of how to replace the ageing Quarry pool while the council has no money.

Work on the project to link three town shopping centres into one has been halted because of the global financial crisis. Mr Kawczynski is working with a group of Shropshire swimming clubs and officials to find a solution to the county's lack of a reasonable competition standard pool.

The best pool – in Shrewsbury's Quarry – is outdated and needs refurbishment. Shropshire Council is considering selling the site, possibly for a luxury hotel, but says it has no money for a replacement pool.

Mr Kawczynski said: "I have approached Ignis (the developers) about the Riverside Shopping Centre because I am concerned that it has stalled, unlike the one in Telford.

"It's important to Shrewsbury to ensure this shopping centre is started as soon as possible. I am worried that people will bypass Shrewsbury and go to Telford.

"One of the things I have approached the developers about is whether it's possible to fit a swimming pool into the Riverside. They're talking about having a cinema in there, so why not a pool?"

Mr Kawczynski will be a guest of Shropshire Amateur Swimming Association on Saturday for the first gala of the county age group championships – which is held in Wolverhampton because of the lack of a suitable pool in Shropshire.

He said: "I think it's a travesty that, in a county with such strong swimming links, young Salopians who have the potential to represent Shropshire, both nationally and internationally, have to go to Wolverhampton for their own championships.

"We have to provide a pool that caters for these young swimmers from all over the county, and for Shrewsbury residents who want to swim for leisure."

Mr Kawczynski said: "The $64 million question is how do you provide a state of the art new swimming pool which caters for the needs of Shrewsbury and Shropshire as well as all the swimming clubs – while not having any money?

"We have a swimming pool which is, by common consent, coming to the end of its life. We have to look, as a community, at all the different individual ways we can try to secure a new pool. I believe one option is to sell the Quarry and ring-fence the money to build a new one.

"A lot of people are very opposed to the idea that the pool could move out of the town centre, to somewhere like Sundorne Sports Village. This is a situation the council is going to have to tackle and we need to look at innovative solutions."

Shropshire's competitive swimmers have effectively been exiled from the county because none of the pools can easily host a large gala. While the Quarry has plenty of space for spectators, it is short on poolside space for swimmers and officials because of a large flume, and it has no parking.

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