Developers plunge in with swimming pool

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A community swimming pool is being planned alongside a £46m retail, office and leisure development in Stocksbridge.

As local residents celebrate the securing of the future of the town’s leisure centre after a vigorous campaign, it emerged this week that the focus for swimming is being switched to a new complex in former industrial land off Manchester Road in the centre of Stocksbridge.

Developers Dransfield Properties are aiming to add a community swimming pool as part of their Fox Valley project, which will include a Tesco superstore.

It indicates that there is no future for the existing pool at the 70s-built leisure centre - while community group 4SLC works on ways of reopening the ‘dry’ leisure facilities on the rest of the site.

Mark Dransfield, managing director of Dransfield Properties, said: “Dransfield Properties is working with members of 4SLC and Sheffield City Council towards delivering a community swimming pool as part of the Fox Valley development in Stocksbridge and a number of constructive meetings have been held with all parties.

“A planning application has been submitted to the council this week and discussions are ongoing about the details of the pool and how it will be managed as a community facility.”

Construction of Fox Valley is due to start later this year, said Mr Dransfield.

“As a company we are of course local to Stocksbridge and we are also offering our professional help and advice on developing the ‘dry’ side of the existing leisure centre in the hope that part of the centre can re-open to the community as soon as possible.”

Fox Valley, anchored by a 63,000 sq ft Tesco, is earmarked for the site of the former Outokumpu steel factory, next to the TATA steel plant. Family housing is also planned.

While details of how the pool will be run and financed have yet to be decided, the scheme is another boost for local people, after a deal between the council and 4SLC over the leisure centre halted legal proceedings.

With the leisure centre under community control, it is hoped to secure funds from charities and other sources to reopen the ‘dry’ side, hopefully in the autumn.

The sooner it is, the more of the city council’s £125,000 mothballing costs will be available. For the council, there is the prospect of the leisure centre reopening - and a new pool - without any extra financial commitment. It pulled out because of the £400,000 annual bill.

Paul Hirst, who chairs 4SLC’s legal committee and oversees business strategy, welcomed plans for a “state of the art” pool and said: “We can’t fault the way Dransfield have approached this. They have been fantastic. The negative is that we’ll be without a pool for about 18 months, while it is built.”

Leisure centre plans include a dance school, climbing wall, archery and boxing.