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Blackbird Leys to get new £7m pool
A £7M swimming pool will be built in Blackbird Leys as the centrepiece of a major overhaul of Oxford’s aging leisure facilities.
Plans to build an indoor water park with slides and a wave machine next to the leisure centre on the estate have been dropped.
Instead, a six-lane competition pool will be built and both the Temple Cowley Pool and the existing pool at Blackbird Leys will close.
The city council hopes the new pool, which could be used by local swimming clubs, schools and the public, will be built as early as 2012.
The complex is also expected to have a second pool featuring a ‘floating floor’, which allows the depth of the pool to be adjusted for learners and disabled swimmers.
City council executive member for leisure Bob Timbs said: “It’s an exciting project.
“The new pool will be built to high modern standards to meet the needs of competition, while providing good quality leisure swimming.
“It would be wonderful if it could be built in the year of the Olympics.”
He said an indoor water park would have been too costly to maintain and a pool alongside a new Oxford ice rink was also too expensive.
The city council is hoping a competition pool attached to Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre will attract substantial funding from Sport England.
It would also be partly funded from savings from the closure of Temple Cowley Pool.
The new pool is part of an extensive package of proposals, which went before the city council’s executive board last night.
The massive regeneration scheme follows the council’s deal with Fusion Lifestyles. The charitable trust has been awarded a 10-year contract to manage the council’s leisure facilities.
It is run in a similar way to SOLL leisure, which operates facilities for the Vale of White Horse District Council and ploughs money it makes back into centres.
Temple Cowley pool, where the ceiling is held up with temporary scaffolding , is expected to remain open until the new Blackbird Leys pool is completed.
The council currently has seven leisure facilities managed under a contract with Fusion Lifestyle that runs until 2019, with an option to extend this for a further five years.
Fusion has already announced plans to install a £90,000 gym above Barton Pool, in Waynflete Road.
Meanwhile, the outdoor Hinksey Pool should see new investment with the relining of the pool made a priority.
Ferry Sport Centre, the city council’s busiest facility, which was refurbished in 2004/05, should get an extension to its gym.
Councillors were told Blackbird Leys Pool was not well-used.
A report said it was “a financial timebomb ticking away, with the pool plant in need of replacement at a cost of £275,000”.
Oxford Ice Rink will need £1.7m investment over the next four years. But plans to transform it into a multi-million-pound leisure centre are to be dropped.
The report said: “Consultation has found an ice rink is viewed as a ‘must-have’ facility within the West End Development.
“Due to the recession, the likelihood of the ice rink being rebuilt within the life of the 10-year contract is viewed as minimal.
“As such Fusion are planning to make improvements to the site to deal with essential repairs and maintenance, improve energy efficiency and improve usage.”
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