Plans for £7m swimming pool to go before council

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PLANS for a £7m leisure centre and swimming pool are set to go before councillors for a decision.

If agreed at Fareham Borough Council’s next executive meeting, the facility could be built by 2016 in the Western Wards.

The pool has been a priority for a number of years and the council hopes it can follow the same success as Fareham Leisure Centre by using the same operators.

Council leader Cllr Sean Woodward said: ‘It’s exciting and it has taken many years.

‘It was one of my targets I set when I became council leader 15 years ago.’

The Homes and Communities Agency, which owns the land, transferred the site to the council in October 2013.

The land has outline planning permission and councillors will be agreeing on Monday to put together a project team to begin work, including organising a public consultation.

Cllr Woodward added: ‘How to pay for it is the challenge which I hope will be sorted out at the next executive.

‘We have the planing permission and the public support, we now need to work how to deliver it.’

The council had considered putting the pool into the Locks Heath centre, but decided Coldeast would be preferable after consulting with potential operator Sport and Leisure Management.

The site of Coldeast is to the west of Locks Heath, for many years it was used as a community hospital and residential care facilities.

The site will eventually be developed including more than 200 homes, affordable housing and older persons’ sheltered accommodation.

More than 100 homes have already been built on the site.

If the pool plans are agreed, the council will spend £7m of its capital reserves and borrow £1.5m.

A council report estimates the cost of the pool to be around £7m, which will provide a six-lane 25m pool, a separate learner pool, gym, dance studio, meeting room and car park with 200 spaces.

The council would also need to build an access road and junction, which could cost £1m.

Cllr Woodward said the scheme was not about making money.

He said: ‘It is a significant capital investment and we will have to work very hard to get that money back.

‘It’s very much a community benefit and that’s what councils are there to provide.

‘It’s something that’s been planned for a long time and we’ve built up the reserves over a long time to be able to pay for it.’

The Coldeast plans include putting in allotments and a cemetery at further cost of £970,000.

Ward councillor Brian Bayford welcomed the news. He said: ‘I’m extremely pleased about it.’

He added: ‘It has been such a long time in the planning and a lot of residents have expressed an interest in the facility.’