Quarry pool decision delayed again for Big Town Plan results
A decision on the future of Shrewsbury’s Quarry pool has been delayed once more – to allow for the results of the Big Town Plan consultation.
A final report regarding The Quarry Swimming and Fitness Centre was due to go before Shropshire Council’s cabinet in September after months of setbacks.
The authority, which owns the leisure centre, is currently deciding where it should be situated in the future.
Councillor Lezley Picton, portfolio holder for culture and leisure, said there is nothing “sinister” about the delays.
She said the decision to postpone the report being considered by cabinet in September is to allow for the results of the Big Town Plan consultation.
Scroll down for a timeline of the Quarry pool saga
The public is being asked whether they are in favour of including a new leisure centre at the Riverside Shopping Centre as part of a redevelopment.
She said: “The report was due to go to cabinet in September but now the Big Town Plan is out and I didn’t want to pre-empt that consultation.
“It proposes that the leisure centre could be the anchor for redevelopment of the Riverside Shopping Centre.
"This idea has been floating around for a long time so, for the sake of a few weeks, it makes sense to delay it.
“This has been going on for such a long time now, I don’t want to elongate it any further than it needs to be so we need to get the feedback from the Big Town Plan consultation first.
“If the response towards the proposals is negative, the decision will be made to keep it at the Quarry – the preferred option of campaign groups and swimming clubs.”
Councillor Picton said they had reconsidered the original plan to move the pool to Sundorne on the back of public reaction.
She said: “If the public don’t want it at the Riverside, they will be asked whether they want a refurb at the Quarry, a major refurb or a complete rebuild.
“We’ve been through this once before so we don’t want to get it wrong. Holding off will save the council money and make sure the right decision is made.”
It is believed cabinet will see the final report in late autumn.
The Quarry pool saga so far
In 2015, Shropshire Council launched a review of the swimming facilities in Shrewsbury. It revealed a number of options for a replacement pool - including on the existing site at Shrewsbury Sports Village in Sundorne.
The council’s official consultation on the project revealed 68 per cent of people wanted the pool to remain at its Quarry location. But the chief executive Clive Wright said the costs of refurbishment were very high - almost as high as building a completely new pool.
Campaigners wanting to keep the pool at the Quarry were then told in 2016 that they must provide figures to back up their calls for it to remain in the town centre. Ruth Reed, a Shropshire architect, said there should be evidence to support the pool’s benefit to the economy of the town entre.
In August that year, a five-month long consultation, to which 2,000 people responded, revealed people thought the pool had a positive impact on trade and should be in a “central location”.
Despite the results, the council then name its preferred option as a new pool at Shrewsbury Sports Village. Councillor Roger Evans, for Longden, requested the decision to be reconsidered by the authority’s scrutiny committee.
In January 2017, the group behind a campaign to keep the Quarry Pool in Shrewsbury town centre pulled out of a consultation, claiming it was fixed. Bernard Wills, from the Quarry Forum, said he felt the authority was biased and unwilling to consider any other option.
Earlier this year, Shropshire Council’s leader revealed he is “minded to redevelop on the current site”. Councillor Peter Nutting, who took over the leadership of the council after the authority had stated its preference for moving the pool to Sundorne, said the council was listening to the public.
In January Mr Wills met Councillor Nutting to put forward his case for any new pool to cater to the needs of all who use it - from swimming clubs to exercise classes and beginner lessons.
A report saying the new preferred option was for the pool to remain in its current location was due to go before cabinet in June but has been delayed a number of times.