Olympic pool decision set for next week

PROSPECTS of Ipswich getting a new Olympic-sized swimming pool should become clearer early next year.Ipswich council's executive committee is expected to give the go-ahead next week for a full report to be prepared on whether it is possible to build a 50-metre pool on borough-owned land in Portman Road.

PROSPECTS of Ipswich getting a new Olympic-sized swimming pool should become clearer early next year.

Ipswich council's executive committee is expected to give the go-ahead next week for a full report to be prepared on whether it is possible to build a 50-metre pool on borough-owned land in Portman Road.

That would be the first stage towards building a new complex there - a complex which could be open by 2010.

The report is expected to be completed by the end of January or early February next year, and should say whether the project is feasible.

Among issues which have to be resolved is whether the site is suitable for such a development because it is on a flood plain.

Council leisure spokeswoman Judy Terry said: “We are certainly very hopeful everything will be all right. We have done some preliminary assessments which suggest that there should not be any insurmountable problems with the site.

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“If the site is suitable then we will be able to start looking for pension fund investors. We have to look at what else could be built on top of the pool.

“It may be possible to put flats over the top - that way you get more use out of the land. And we want to build a piazza in front of it which could be used as a skating rink in the winter and a nice open-air café in the summer.”

Mrs Terry said it was still intended that Crown Pools would remain open until the new pool was completed - although if the Portman Road site was not suitable then there could have to be a re-think on the proposal.

She said: “We certainly don't want the town to be left without a major pool, but if we need to rebuild at Crown Pools then that would have to be shut for a long time.

The Portman Road pool would take at least a year to build - possibly longer - but could be available in advance of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Proposals to built an Olympic-sized pool in Ipswich have attracted support from a wide area.

Former headteacher Mary Gunn, from Coney Weston near Thetford, has worked with the English Schools Swimming Association for many years.

She said: “For swimmers of the future all over the county, there would be a huge motivation for success if we had top class events and facilities locally. We need the 50-metre pool!”

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