Coventry City Council has welcomed the announcement that confirms the future of the Alan Higgs Centre – and could pave the way for a new 50m swimming pool for the city.
An agreement has been reached to transfer the centre to Coventry and Warwickshire Award Trust (CAWAT).
And that news was followed by the confirmation that the Council will start detailed feasibility work that could see a new 50 metre swimming pool in the city.
It confirmed the plans, following outline discussions between the Council, Coventry Sports Foundation, Sport England and the Amateur Swimming Association.
It means detailed work will get underway that could see an eight lane, 50 metre swimming pool built at the Alan Higgs Centre in Allard Way, which is operated by Coventry Sports Foundation. It could include 500 permanent seats to allow the pool to be used for regional competitions.
The initiative could see the Council providing some of the capital investment required to build the pool, alongside potential grant funding from a number of external bodies.
And Paul Breed, Chief Executive of Coventry Sports Foundation said: “It is very exciting for the city and its sports and leisure provision that the decision has been taken to explore the development of a new 50-metre swimming pool at the Alan Higgs Centre.
“We have seen a massive increase in participation in swimming since opening a new pool at Centre AT7 in the north of the city, so the prospect of having a new 50-metre pool in the south east is very good news for Coventry.
“The city has a proud swimming tradition and there is no doubt that a new eight lane, state-of-the-art 50 metre pool would allow that pedigree to continue through future generations.
“The Alan Higgs Centre has brought much needed sports provision to this area of the city since it opened 12 years ago, and is playing a part in raising the standards of facilities and participation right across Coventry.”
Adam Paker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: “The ASA has been in ongoing discussions with Coventry City Council around the development of a new 50 metre facility at the Alan Higgs Centre, and we are delighted to now have the opportunity to work with them to test the feasibility of this project.
“Coventry has a strong history for producing talented swimmers and this development would not only help improve the facilities available for local clubs but it would also give more people the opportunity to enjoy swimming more regularly.
“It is an exciting time for swimming in England and a 50 metre facility would give the city an opportunity to progress all aspects of its ten year aquatic strategy.”
Mike Diaper, Sport England Director of Community Sport, said: “The new city-wide sports strategy for Coventry offers an ambitious sporting vision. As work on the city centre waterpark progresses, we welcome discussions on the possibility of a new 50 metre pool for the city. The provision of quality sporting facilities plays a significant role in encouraging more people to become active, and we wish Coventry City well in its endeavours to deliver this.”
The Council and Coventry Sports Foundation will now look to develop detailed designs for the site and work up business plans for the potential new facilities, in consultation with the Amateur Swimming Association, City of Coventry Swimming Club, Sport England and external funders. If developed and approved with a complete funding package in place, a new pool could open to the public as early as late 2018.
The confirmation of these plans comes ahead of designs for the new city centre water park. Construction work on the water park is due to begin in March 2017, with Council and NHS staff in Spire House and Christchurch House (where the new leisure facility will be built) moving out of their offices earlier than planned to allow building work to begin as quickly as possible.