SPORTS VILLAGE: Council to develop masterplan for Eston site
Councillors will be asked next month to approve the development of an outline business case for a new swimming pool in Eston and a masterplan to create a sports village.
A cabinet report said Redcar and Cleveland Council was “determined to provide a new facility at the earliest opportunity” and an “ambitious target” had been set to start the work within 18 months.
In March a detailed structural survey by engineering consultants Billinghurst, George and Partners found repairs worth £3m were needed to the existing 50-year-old pool building, off the Trunk Road at Eston, which has been closed since last June when an underground plant room flooded causing major damage.
The Stockton-based firm said the most feasible option available to the local authority was demolishing the current building and constructing a new one.
It is expected this will cost approximately £5m and be met by prudential borrowing.
The report said a masterplan for the site, which would see the addition of a sports village, would identify any further investment needed, along with potential funding opportunities.
The council has also been in discussions with the MFC Foundation – the charity arm of Middlesbrough Football Club – about moving its headquarters from the Riverside Stadium to the Eston site.
MFC Foundation already manages the Herlingshaw Centre, which is adjacent to Eston leisure centre, where the pool building is situated.
It is planning to apply to the Football Foundation for possible funding for such a move, with the council likely to make a financial contribution also.
Council figures show Eston pool was used 26,000 times in 2019/20.
The pool provided 16 local primary schools with swimming lessons, 14 of which have now relocated to other nearby pools following agreement with the council, which is also meeting any increased travel costs.
An agreement has also been reached whereby Eston Amateur Swimming Club, which was based at the pool, can have the same provision for the same fee at the Redcar and Cleveland Leisure and Community Heart in Redcar.
The report ahead of a meeting on June 8 said: “Taken together, the new pool and potential Foundation relocation provide an opportunity for a new vision for the whole site which would be to create an attractive, welcoming and vibrant facility for the whole community.
“The overall look and feel of the site is tired and unattractive, with the external façade of the swimming pool facing Normanby Road and the Archway building [a former school which is no longer operational] looking particularly unappealing.”
Councillor Steve Kay, cabinet member for health, housing and welfare, said the new pool was expected to be very similar to the existing facility and consist of a 25 metre, six lane pool with viewing gallery and would be in close proximity to the old building, subject to consultation.
He added: “It is also important to take this opportunity to look at maximising the potential of the site by developing a masterplan for a sports village.
“In partnership with Middlesbrough FC Foundation, who are looking to relocate their headquarters to Eston, we shall ensure all external funding opportunities are explored.”
If everything goes to plan building the new swimming pool would take approximately 12 months after construction starts on site in November 2022.
Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter
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