The springboard to a top-class swimming pool

Parish councillor Gordon Roper

Parish councillor Gordon Roper

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

RESIDENTS are counting down to the grand opening of Blackbird Leys’ new swimming pool in four months.

Our exclusive pictures show progress on the £9.23m extension to Oxford City Council’s Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, Pegasus Road.

Contractors began work in July last year on the 18-month project – with a new sports pavilion – and are on target to finish in December.

The development will have an eight-lane, 25-metre pool with moveable floor, teaching pool, soft play area and new changing facilities.

Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper said: “I think everybody that’s gone in and seen it has realised what a wonderful building it is.

“This is something that Oxford has been lacking for years. It will be a benefit to Oxford and the villages around it.”

The development will replace Temple Cowley Pools and the existing Blackbird Leys Pool, to close in December.

Building work on the site was delayed by a year due to legal challenges, including two judicial reviews.

Opponents have always insisted Temple Cowley Pools does not need to close.

Residents succeeded in it being registered as an “asset of community value” in March, delaying any sale of the site, potentially for housing.

They have until October 7 to put together a bid to buy the building from the authority, which has the final say.

The council said the new centre will cost £150,000 a year rather than the £360,000 it says it pays leisure firm Fusion Lifestyle to run Temple Cowley.

But Mr Roper said: “There was a lot of controversy about it being built here, but now it’s there people are accepting it as they’ve seen it go up.

“People who have been whinging and moaning about it should see the finished thing. It’s first class. I just hope everyone makes proper use of it.”

Blackbird Leys resident Dave Merry said: “It should be good for the community.

“I’m sure we’ll use it, it’s a lot closer to where we live than getting over to Temple Cowley.”

What started as an artist’s impression is now taking shape to provide Blackbird Leys with a new swimming pool that is scheduled to open in December

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