Derby City Council's ambitious plans for a state of the art swimming pool complexswimming and leisure facility are moving closer to reality, and following the recent public engagement, Councillor Baggy Shanker, lead Cabinet member for the new swimming pool complex, tells us more:
At Council Cabinet next week, we are due to consider our next steps as we seek to deliver on our Pledge to build a new swimming pool at Moorways.
In September, we unveiled our ambitious proposals for a new pool complex on the site, including a ten lane, 50 metre pool, leisure water and learner tank, as well as a gym, exercise studios, cafe and multi-use rooms. We then asked residents in Derby to tell us what they thought.
We have received positive feedback from the public engagement exercise, with 84 per cent of respondents indicating they would likely use the new swimming pool complex and a significant majority agreeing with the suggested mix of facilities.
We believe that this new complex will reinforce Derby's reputation as a great place to live, work and visit, while delivering a strong future for swimming in the city.
We're now proposing to seek planning permission for our designs and proceed to the procurement of a building contractor, to deliver on our pledge to build a new pool for Derby.
But just like when you plan to make any large investment, we need to prepare our finances before we can move to the next stage. Next week, my Cabinet colleagues and I will be considering a report that recommends creating a capital budget for the new facility totalling £33 million. This is within our previously stated envelope of £35 million.
When we agreed the Council's annual budget in March, we prudently set aside an initial £20 million of capital funding as a starting point for this vital project. We knew at the time that the total project cost would exceed this amount.
Now that the indicative costs are known, we will be seeking Cabinet and then Council approval to amend our capital programme and move forward with the project. The additional £13 million has been identified through forecast capital receipts from the disposal of surplus properties.
During the development of the business case, we have looked at three different operating models – a Council-run pool, an outsourced facility or a new leisure trust. Work is continuing to identify the best long-term option for the city.
Analysis by experts has shown that both the outsourced and trust models would require no further subsidy after five years. If the new pool remained Council-run, we would revisit its financing as part of a future budget process.
We've also allocated an additional £400,000 to our revenue budget, which our analysis suggests could initially support either an outsourced or trust-based operating model.
From the outset, we have been clear that our swimming facilities were no longer fit for purpose. The Leisure Facilities Strategy, published in 2009, stated that our ageing pools at Moorways and Queen's Street should be replaced.
The recent work carried out to repair the roof of the family pool at Queen's is intended to prolong the life of the centre by five years. When the new pool at Moorways opens, it is expected that Queen's Leisure Centre will close.
Although the public engagement exercise has now ended, we're still eager to hear the public's views about our plans for Moorways and to discuss how the new facility can meet the needs of residents.
Our pledge to build a new swimming pool complex that will be open by 2020 has reached an exciting stage. As I've said many times before, we will only have one opportunity to get this right and I believe we have achieved this so far with our proposals.
We want to ensure that when construction starts, residents can be confident that we are building a facility that meets the expectations and needs of residents for generations to come.