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Will council take plunge on new Shrewsbury Quarry Pool?

By Jonny Drury | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

It has taken years to get to this point but finally Shrewsbury Quarry is on the verge of getting a new modern swimming pool facility.

The future of the Quarry Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre in Priory Road has been the subject of much debate and campaigning

The future of the Quarry Swimming and Fitness Centre in Priory Road has been subject to speculation for well over a decade.

Now a report will go before Shropshire Council’s cabinet next week recommending the current building be demolished and a new modern facility be built in its place.

The authority believes the Quarry site, where the current building has stood for more than 50 years, is the best place for a new complex which could include offices, a boardroom and food and drink facilities.

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The cabinet will be asked to agree to spend £500,000 on a feasibility study on the site and a design.

Work will begin immediately if the cabinet gives the plans the green light next week. Councillor Lezley Picton, cabinet member for culture and leisure, has ruled nothing out when it comes to the design of the new building.

Watch: Shrewsbury people react to pool plans

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Shrewsbury residents react to Quarry swimming pool plans

She said: “This is an exciting redevelopment for the Quarry and an opportunity to have the best possible building we can.

“We have looked at all the different options and there were a number of sites where a swimming pool could have gone in the town. But following investigations it is decided the best option is for it to stay in the Quarry.

“Most important thing for me is that next week the cabinet meet we get the go-ahead to push the button. When I close my eyes I can see the new facility and I know what it could do for Shrewsbury and the Quarry. It is a really exciting and not something we have taken lightly.”

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The existing centre, which is run by Shropshire Community Leisure Trust, is becoming increasingly expensive to operate due to parts of the building being beyond their lifespan.

For that reason Councillor Picton said a rebuild was the most sensible option to go for.

The current leisure centre in the Quarry

It is not known how much a new centre will cost but the councillor said she was confident there would be money available. The council would be looking into the possibility of attracting private investment.

The new facility will include a competition and a training swimming pool as well as a gym. The authority will be opening the design of the building up to a design competition if plans are passed by the cabinet.

Councillor Picton added: “This will be an iconic building and we want the best architects to look at it, so we will go out to design competition. There will be parameters which are yet to be decided.

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“There are so many possibilities when we go out to design and nothing is going to be ruled out at all.

“The current building is not attractive, and this is going to be a real addition to the Quarry.”

Executive director of Place, Mark Barrow, said work could begin on a new complex within the next two years, and the council will build an alternative swimming pool to serve the town while the Quarry work is under way.

It is uncertain where the facility will be, but the council is looking at a number of sites including an area that is available at Sundorne Sports Village, where the previous council wanted to permanently move the town’s pool to back in 2016.

Shrewsbury's Quarry Pool

Mr Barrow also stated there is a possibility that the temporary pool could remain in place after the Quarry is built.

He added: “The people of Shrewsbury will not go without a pool for three years.

“This has happened in some authority areas and it won’t happen here.

“We are looking at a number of sites currently, including Sundorne Sports Village.

“If this pool proved a success and was financially viable it could also remain after the new pool opens and then the town will have two. At the moment we are open to everything and want to look at everything we can.”

Once a feasibility study is complete, a full report on the cost of a new facility and a temporary facility as well as the design will go before the cabinet in the summer.

More than a decade of speculation on the future of the Quarry

  • 2007 – Works costing £300,000 were carried out by the now-defunct Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council to make the building safe for public use and extend its life span for a five-year period until a replacement facility was built.
  • 2009 – A countywide assessment was undertaken of future indoor facilities which confirmed that a key focus should be on a new swimming facility in Shrewsbury. Torkildsen Barclay Leisure Consultants' assessment provided a justification for a 50 station gym and aerobics facility.
  • 2011 – A survey identified a total of £666,609 of works and repairs needed to be carried over a five-year period. This included more than £200,000 for roofing repairs and £45,000 for a new generator. But the survey did not make a comprehensive assessment of the pool and all the services.
  • 2014 – A petition with more than 1,400 signatures was sent to Shropshire Council. Five sites were shortlisted for a new pool. Shropshire Council approved recommendation to undertake detailed work on different options for swimming provision in Shrewsbury. A further survey was undertaken which found that various works, amounting to £1,405,295 of which £923,564 were deemed to be essential, needed to be carried out. The Quarry Swimming and Fitness Centre (QSFC) was registered as an Asset of Community Value.
  • 2015 – More than 1,900 people responded to a public consultation on seven different pool options. Sport England completed an assessment of swimming pool provision in Shrewsbury. An independent analysis of the consultation was carried out by industry experts 4global.
  • 2016 – Shropshire Council said the preferred location for the replacement pool would be at Sundorne Sports Village. The council confirmed terms of reference for a business case for the Sports Village, alongside any alternatives put forward.
Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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