Kenilworth to be without new swimming pool until at least 2026
By James Smith
29th Sep 2023 | Local News
Kenilworth will be without a swimming pool until at least 2026, councillors have revealed.
Addressing the 200 residents who gathered at St Nicholas Church on Wednesday night (September 27), project manager for the new Abbey Fields leisure centre Padraig Herlihy said the new pools will take even longer to build than previously thought.
That is if they are even built at all, with leader of Warwick District Council (WDC) Cllr Ian Davison refusing to completely rule out the idea that Kenilworth could be left without any swimming facilities.
Locals gathered at the public meeting to hear an update on the much-delayed project, and to find out more about the significant archaeological remains which have been unearthed.
Work on site has been significantly delayed, with new designs having to be drawn up.
This while local campaigners have renewed calls for the council to move the pools to a new site.
While Mr Herlihy said councillors will make a full decision on whether to continue with the project in Abbey Fields in November, he said the design team was working hard to keep the project moving forward.
"We will be proceeding to avoid any additional delay unless or until the decision is taken to stop the project," he told locals.
"The decision will be made in November about the future of the project.
"At the moment we have to continue, because otherwise we could delay the project further."
To incorporate the findings, the foundations of the building have been raised by 50cm - although the overall height of the building will only increase by 35cm.
Changes to the drainage have also been included but there have been no changes to the actual design of the building.
To preserve the remains, a layer of native soil will be placed on them and then put in place by hand.
But the design changes must now be signed off by councillors and this will not happen until at least January - after locals have been given the chance to comment on them.
Should the designs be approved and the project given the green light to continue, work would commence on site in March.
But there will be "very little action on site" over the winter, Mr Herlihy added.
Then the build will take 114 weeks rather than the originally planned 74 as contractors will need to "work a lot slower" meaning the leisure centre will not be complete until summer 2026.
"If you're here for archaeology you might be excited because there is a lot of great stuff going on," Cllr Davison told locals - including those watching on YouTube - on Wednesday night.
"If you're here for the swimming, you might be very disappointed."
Local MP Sir Jeremy Wright, who was in the audience at the meeting, called on council officials to rule out the possibility that a new pool will never be built in the town.
"The option that hasn't been discussed in any detail is the option of having no swimming pool at all in Kenilworth," he said.
"I would find that unacceptable. I suspect many others would too.
"Can you confirm today that is an option that is not being considered?"
But Cllr Davison responded: "I can't give a cast-iron guarantee on that."
The Green council leader said the possibility of a new site or no pool at all was a discussion for after November, once councillors had made a decision on whether to continue in Abbey Fields.
Locals were also told that if a new site was chosen for the leisure centre, this would not be ready until spring 2028 at the earliest.