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Could Norwich get a new public swimming pool?

PUBLISHED: 12:15 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 07 November 2018

Could Norwich be set for a new swimming pool? Pic Getty Images/Stockphoto.

Could Norwich be set for a new swimming pool? Pic Getty Images/Stockphoto.

SolisImages

Norwich could be set for a new public swimming pool, with council bosses ready to spend more than £200,000 to explore whether it would be feasible.

The Mile Cross depot. Picture: GoogleThe Mile Cross depot. Picture: Google

Councillors will next week be asked to agree for money to be made available for a feasibility study into whether a leisure centre, potentially including a pool, could form part of the redevelopment of the city’s former Mile Cross depot.

Norwich City Council has been looking to demolish the depot to make way for hundreds of new homes, but officers are keen to see if part of the site could be used for community facilities.

Active Norfolk last year warned how there was a “significant” issue with school-based pools in Norwich, with them being closed because schools could no longer afford to repair them.

The pools at Riverside and at the UEA Sportspark are available for public use. But there has long been criticism that, following the closure of St Augustine’s swimming pool in 1997, parts of the city are not well served.

Mike Stonard, the city council’s cabinet member for sustainable and inclusive growth, said: “This is an important site and it is a city council owned site.

“We now want to build houses on there, but what we also want to do is look at whether there is an opportunity for the city to have a lesiure facility there, which could include a pool.

“This is all subject to us carrying out a feasibility study and we wouldn’t want to raise expectations.

“But this is something which is worth exploring.”

The depot was most recently used as Mile Cross Business Centre. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe depot was most recently used as Mile Cross Business Centre. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Half the cost of the feasibility study could come from a grant.

And if that study shows the numbers stack up, then support to make the leisure centre a reality could be sought from Sport England, the NHS and the Clinical Commissioning Group.

It is also possible that a GP surgery could be based on the site.

Further money for the project could come from the sale of some of the private housing at the site, or the authority could borrow cash to get the leisure centre built.

Mike Stonard. Pic: Sid Frisby.Mike Stonard. Pic: Sid Frisby.

Members of the Labour-controlled cabinet will be asked to agree to the feasibility study when they meet on Wednesday, November 14.

As reported, demolishing the current buildings on the site of the 10.5 acre depot, off Mile Cross Road, could cost the city council up to £2m. That work is unlikely to finish until at least 2020.

Norwich’s lost swimming pools

Norwich St Augustine's swimming pool 1987Norwich St Augustine's swimming pool 1987

St Augustine’s

St Augustine’s Swimming Pool opened in 1961 at a cost of £163,000. The 110ft long and 42ft wide pool was beloved by swimmers, while it was a rite of passage for generations of Norwich children to summon up the courage to jump or dive off the five metre high ‘top board’.

As well as swimming, spectators were able to pay (6d in the day time and a shilling in the evening) to sit in the stands to watch.

Diving into the St Augustines swimming pool. 1987. Picture: Archant LibraryDiving into the St Augustines swimming pool. 1987. Picture: Archant Library

But, in late 1996 the pool was closed and never re-opened. Years passed, with Norwich not having a public pool, until Riverside Leisure Centre opened in 2003.

Aquapark

Just outside the city’s boundaries, in Hellesdon, Broadland District Council spent millions in the late 1980s to build the Norwich Sports Village and Aquapark. They were sold to private company Liana Ltd in 2005. Not long after, the Aquapark then closed to the public. For a while, members of a private sports club could still swim in it, before it was replaced with an ice rink.

St Augustine's Swimming Pool pictured in 1963. Picture: Archant LibrarySt Augustine's Swimming Pool pictured in 1963. Picture: Archant Library

Lakenham Outdoor Swimming Pool

It’s more than 25 years since the gates were locked for lost time on Lakenham Swimming Pool.

The original 80-yard pool was built in 1908, when parts of the River Yare were sealed off and made safe.

In the 1920s and 30s, big galas were held, attracted swimmers from across East Anglia.

In the 1980s, children under 16 were allowed in for free.

But at the end of the 1992 season, when 10,500 people had gone there, it closed and never re-opened.

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