'Historic moment' as Ipswich agrees to build new sports facilities

Artist impression of Gainsborough Sports Centre. Picture: IBC

Artist impression of Gainsborough Sports Centre. - Credit: IBC

Plans for a revamp of Ipswich's sports facilities that will see a new aquatics centre built have been approved by council chiefs at a meeting dubbed a “historic moment” for the town.

Ipswich Borough Council’s executive on Tuesday night unanimously agreed a new facilities strategy.

The headline schemes include proposals to close Crown Pools and replace it with a modern, low-carbon aquatics centre in the Portman Road car park, and a new sports and athletics facility at the current Gainsborough Sports Centre.

Bryony Rudkin, Labour deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: IBC

Bryony Rudkin, Labour deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council - Credit: IBC

The authority has also pledged investment for a new carbon-neutral facility for Whitton area, although those plans are still in development.

Elsewhere, the authority will hand back management of Northgate High School community sports facilities to Suffolk County Council, make Fore Street baths more energy-efficient and continue to support Fusion in restoring Broomhill Lido.

Land designated for sport at Ravenswood will be developed as pitches and a pavilion.

Labour councillor Martin Cook said it was a “historic moment” which represented “once in two generations” level of investment.

Most Read

Bryony Rudkin, Labour portfolio holder for sport said it was a "really exciting development for the town".

Artist impression of the new aquatics centre planned for Portman Road by Ipswich Borough Council.

Artist impression of the new aquatics centre planned for Portman Road by Ipswich Borough Council. - Credit: IBC

She said: “It’s been heartening to see that in general people have welcomed it, and the concerns that people have perhaps around transport links are things that can be resolved as part of the ongoing process.

“I think its been really important for us as part of the regeneration of the town centre that the leisure offer is a key part of that economy, so having an aquatics centre in the town centre is really important."

The Gainsborough development, due to be open by Easter 2025, will feature an eight-court sports hall, bigger gym and fitness suites, expanded gymnastics space and eight-lane athletics track.

The aquatics centre meanwhile, planned for opening in 2027, will feature flumes, larger gym area, fitness class space, soft play facilities and cafe.

Ipswich Council opposition leader Ian Fisher. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL

Ian Fisher, leader of Ipswich Borough Council's opposition Conservative group and ward councillor for Castle Hill. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: IBC

The old Crown Pools site, which has been open since 1984 and been a flagship building in the town, is then likely to make way for flats or commercial use facilities.

Ian Fisher, leader of the opposition Conservative group said he was “fully behind the redevelopment of these facilities” but said he had worries about the lack of provision in the south west of the town.

He added: “The question is with us being the most uncertain times we have had financially for quite some time surrounding interest rates, can we afford it?”