New £13.1 million Whitchurch swimming baths move a step closer as leader warns of costs 'danger'

Leaders backed the rebuild of a swimming baths with an increased budget of £13.1 million, as a cabinet member warned of the "danger" of spiralling costs.

An artist's impression of the new Whitchurch Pool
An artist's impression of the new Whitchurch Pool

Councillors at a Shropshire Council meeting unanimously approved the business case for rebuilding Whitchurch Swimming and Fitness Centre, and to add it to the capital strategy.

The budget for the project was increased by £600,000 - from £12.5 million to £13.1 million - and Councillor Cecilia Motley, said the authority wants work to start quickly.

"We intend to start work as soon as possible," she said. "There is a danger of spiralling costs." It is expected that work would start in 2024, with completion in 2025, although council leader Lezley Picton said: "If we can get it up before 2025 we absolutely will. As a council we are adamant about building this pool."

Councillor Motley also said: "The original pool was built in 1972 and had reached the end of its natural life. The new pool is being made as fit for purpose for the modern age as we can make it."

The new premises, which would be built on the site of the old pool, will include a new pool, rooms, a gym and a café. The Whitchurch plans include the construction of a brand new swimming centre featuring a six-lane 25m pool with a movable floor, a 35-station fitness suite, multi-function rooms and a café with 20 covers.

The current pool at Whitchurch has been closed since March 2020 after investigations discovered that work to fix a leak in the pool would be more difficult than expected.

The project had initially been expected to cost between £7m and £8m, but had risen to more than £13.1m – partly due to inflation and increased construction costs.

Other new swimming pool projects have been dropped by the council, with plans for a replacement pool at Shrewsbury's Quarry Fitness Centre and a fresh facility at Shrewsbury Sports Village in Sundorne both cancelled.

The main pool at the Quarry swimming baths has been closed since late July due to damage to the roof. Monkmoor councillor Pam Moseley asked when it would be open to the public again, but Councillor Motley said there was "no set date" available yet.

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