New leisure centres to open next November
New leisure centres in Leamington and Warwick will open in November 2017, Warwick District Council has confirmed.
Work to improve the centres at St Nicholas Park in Warwick and Newbold Comyn in Leamington will start in December 2016 and January 2017 respectively.
Newbold Comyn will take 50 weeks to build, and a 44 week plan has been drawn up for St Nicholas’ Park.
The work will cost over £15 million including a Sport England grant worth £2 million to cover some of the costs.
Both pools will be closed at the same time for 22 weeks from January 2017 as part of the works, which council officers admitted would be an unpopular decision with many current users.
They said the pool closures would mean the centres could reopen sooner rather than later.
Head of cultural service at the council Rose Winship said: “We’re working hard to find other pools for our users to swim in. We’re just going to have to brave that one out.”
Officers considered trying to keep the pools open for longer while the works went on, but they said this would result in the centres not opening until April 2018.
Cllr Michael Coker, portfolio holder for culture, said: “We built two new pools 30 years ago in Warwick and Leamington, and they have been very successful.
“But they began to get old, and the time has come for us to rejuvenate the two centres.
“It will give more people the opportunity to exercise and enjoy themselves.”
One of the most controversial aspects of the plans was the decision to change the layout of the changing rooms.
Both centres will now incorporate unisex ‘village changing rooms’, which feature cubicles for individuals and families to get changed in. There will also be more open showers and cubicle showers.
This drew objections from some people who were worried about privacy issues and the potential lack of social interaction the cubicles might create. However, council officers stood firm on the changes.
Newbold Comyn’s plans include a 100-station gym, two fitness studios, changing areas, a four-court sports hall, a climbing wall for youngsters called ‘Clip and Climb’ and three new multi-use rooms.
The car park will also be moved to the other side of the path and will have 162 bays.
St Nicholas’ size will be increased with a two-storey extension, and a new foyer and spinning studio will be built.
There will be 16 new spaces in the car park from removing the coach drop-off point, and plans are being considered to encourage long-stay users to park in Myton Fields during the summer to help ease pressure from the increased demand.
The district council is still searching for a private management company to oversee the running of the centres.