Shrewsbury business chiefs call for pool to stay in town centre
Business leaders in Shrewsbury have added their voices to calls for the Shrewsbury's swimming pool to stay in the town centre.
They were among more than 100 people who attended the first public meeting on the future of the Quarry Fitness and Leisure Centre last night.
They packed into the Darwin Suite at the Prince Rupert Hotel to debate the future of the town's swimming pool, which is currently in Quarry park, as Shropshire Council considers either modernising the site or possibly moving it out of the town.
The overwhelming feeling at the meeting, called by Quarry Swimming and Fitness Forum, appeared to be that people wanted the pool to stay where it is. They also wanted the present four pools at the site to be renovated rather than see a modern two-pool centre built on the same site or at four other possible locations outside the town centre.
John Hall, deputy chairman of Shrewsbury of Shrewsbury Business Improvement District, which covers more than 500 businesses in the town, said: "We need as many ways as possible that are going to draw people into the town centre and a leisure offer is hugely important.
"It's a huge benefit to those living and working in the town. It's important in attracting people to come and work in the town centre.
"Also a lot of people using the Quarry centre will go on to do other things, they'll have a coffee or do some shopping after. A vibrant town centre needs a mixed offer." he said.
Chris Archibald, of the Quarry Swimming and Fitness Forum, agreed, saying the current site was "beautiful – it's a jewel, and there's such an opportunity here to make that something properly good".
He said a new building would risk losing both depth and capacity as well as possibly losing diving boards and water flumes.
George Candler, Shropshire Council's director of commissioning, said public consultation on the options had been extended until October 30.
"We've already had 1,300 people register their preferences. In terms of consultation that's a fantastic response, one of the best Shropshire Council has had since 2009."
Options include a £2.3 million basic refurbishment, a £12 million full renovation or a totally new building costing between £9 million and £10.9 million.
This could be at the current site in the Quarry, or at Clayton Way, Oxon; Ellesmere Road, opposite the Battlefield Enterprise Park; at Shrewsbury College on London Road or at the Shrewsbury Sports Village at Sundorne.
Members of the public questioned figures suggesting a new two-pool swimming centre would attract 100,000 more users than the existing four pools.
But Mr Candler said: "An independent report by Strategic Leisure says numbers do go up when you go to a new two-pool facility."
Mr Candler said one of the two pools would have a moveable floor, meaning that the depth could be reduced for learner swimmers and made deeper for divers.
He said decisions on exactly what would appear as part of the new or renovated centre, such as flumes and diving boards, would not be made until the next stage of decision making next February.