PLANS to construct a £17million 50metre swimming pool at the Alan Higgs Centre took a step forward after Councillors voted in favour of funding the project.
The unanimous vote means the Council will fund £10.5million towards the project – with an additional £6.4million needed from independent funders before construction can begin.
The move follows council’s closure of the Grade II listed sports centre and 50metre pool on Fairfax Street in September 2014 – arguing it could not continue subsidising the pool with £2,000-a-day of Coventry taxpayers’ money.
Should additional funding be secured, the pool would be built on the land currently used as an indoor football pitch by Coventry City Football Club’s Academy.
The decision to fund the planned 50metre pool follows the Council’s decision to construct a £36.7million water park in the city centre – which is expected to be completed by late 2018.
Speaking at a full Council meeting on Tuesday, Coun Kamran Caan, cabinet member for public health and sport, said: “The pool will form an essential part of the ‘sports village’ at the Alan Higgs Centre.
“The site is a good location and answers demands for swimming in the south east of the city.
“It will not only help support the city’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes of the future, but will also cater for other athletes and inspire people from all backgrounds.”
Welcoming the news, Coun Allan Andrews told The Observer: “Credit where credit is due – the Labour Council acted and secured a positive result for the city, this is a fine example of great work by everyone involved.
“A year ago we didn’t think this would happen and now Coventry will have its own 50m swimming pool.
“One thing we do need to work hard on now is to ensure the correct public transport links are put in place to make the pool accessible to everyone in the city.
“Links to the Alan Higgs centre are acceptable at the moment, though we don’t want to make the facility available only to people living within walking distance.
“It is a shame the 50m pool isn’t in the city centre, however there’s limited space available and we must remember we will have the water park based there – the Alan Higgs Centre is the next best location.”
Woodlands Ward Councillor Gary Ridley, Conservative, said the decision to fund the 50m pool is fantastic news for the city – and will help build on the legacy of London 2012 and the recent Rio Games.
He added: “I’m thrilled with the council’s decision to vote in favour of approving the funding for the pool.
“This is news some people have wanted to hear for a long time.
“It’s important we build on not only the success story of London 2012, but also Rio too – Team GB finishing second in the medals table is a tremendous achievement.
“The pool will give people opportunity to aspire and go on to succeed in sport.
“It’s not only great news for the people of Coventry, but also the wider region too.
“This is a chance to put Coventry on the map and showcase the facilities we have available to us.”