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Sandwell Aquatics Centre Frequently Asked Questions

What facilities will the new centre have?

The centre would feature an Olympic-sized competition swimming pool a 25m diving pool, and a community swimming pool. The main pool will feature a boom which means that the length of the pool can be varied and all pools will feature moveable floors to enable a larger number of groups of all ages and abilities to use it.  Also planned at the centre – which would be run by Sandwell Leisure Trust – are 1,000 spectator seats for the swimming pools, three activity studios, a minimum of 8-court sports hall, a 125-station gym, a 25-station ladies only gym, a dry diving centre, an indoor cycling studio, new football pitch and changing facilities, a sauna/steam room, a new urban park with a children's play area, and a café.

How much will the aquatics centre cost to build?

Around £60 million.

Who will be paying for it?

The total £60 million cost of building the new centre would be met by various organisations involved in delivering the Commonwealth Games 2022, including the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, Sandwell Council, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Sport England.

How much is the council paying towards building it?

The council, with funding support from Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Sport England, is expected to agree a £27.6 million contribution. The exact breakdown is yet to be agreed.

What about people and groups that use Londonderry Playing Fields? 

Subject to planning permission being granted, the council will work closely with anyone affected to provide adequate alternative spaces, including the protection and improvement of parks in the close vicinity to Londonderry Playing Fields. for any football pitches that may be lost at Londonderry Playing Fields.

The council will improve the quality of the football pitch on the site and provide new changing facilities which will see a much-needed improvement on the current ones.

How we will keep local residents and businesses up-to-date?

We delivered letters to people living by Londonderry Playing Fields on Tuesday 23 January 2018, as soon as our plans had reached the point we could make a public announcement. The proposal is subject to Cabinet approval and then to planning permission. There will be a planning application and full consultation with local people which will be undertaken in the autumn and winter of 2018.

When will work start and the centre be open to the public?

Subject to planning permission, we would expect construction work to start in summer 2019 and the centre would be open to the public after the Commonwealth Games 2022.

Will Langley Swimming Centre, Smethwick Swimming Centre and Harry Mitchell Leisure Centre have to close? If so, when would they close? What would happen to users, groups, staff there?

The new state-of-the-art aquatics centre will ultimately replace our aging and uneconomical swimming centres in the area.  It is the council’s ambition that all centres remain open until services transfer to the new centre. This means that there will be an uninterrupted service offer for our residents during the Commonwealth Games 2022.

Cabinet will be asking for a report and consultation on future uses of these buildings and we will not make any decisions until that consultation is completed.

How will local roads cope with the congestion/disruption during the Games for the new centre?

Highway improvements are part of our proposals. A comprehensive traffic management plan will be part of the planning application and consultation, the delivery of which will leave lasting, much-needed improvements to the local roads. As always, our aim is to minimise disruption.

An important part of the mission of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be the delivery of a 'Public Transport Games' where walking, cycling and public transport will be the first choice for spectators and workforce travelling to venues.

This will be achieved through a significant upgrade in the public/active transport offer including enhanced rail services, improved cycle routes/parking and dedicated shuttle bus services from transport hubs and park & ride sites.

Athletes, technical officials and media will travel to the venue by dedicated bus and coach services. There will be limited car parking on-site at the venue for accredited operational vehicles and Games officials only. As such, it is anticipated that there will be no private car parking at the venue for spectators (except Blue Badge accessible parking). All spectators will be expected to travel by public transport, walk or cycle or use dedicated shuttle buses operating specifically for the Games.

Temporary traffic management and parking controls will be introduced and enforced around the venue on event days to protect local residents and businesses from spectators and workforce parking cars on local streets. Local access will be maintained for local residents and businesses, and further details on these access arrangements will be provided in the lead up to the event.
 

Construction 

What impact will the building works have on local traffic?

We will manage the delivery of goods and materials and avoid deliveries during the morning and afternoon rush hours. The delivery vehicles will be able to turn into the site and off the main carriageway prior to reporting to the gateman. All deliveries will be pre-arranged with an allocated arrival time. The goods will be unloaded within the site to designated storage areas and the vehicles will turn within the boundary to leave site. 

Will the building works be noisy?

Inevitably, the works will generate some noise. However, these will be kept to a minimum and will be time restricted. Works generally take place between 8am and 5pm. We will keep neighbours informed of the works taking place and warn of any noisy activities. We do this through letter drops to all properties on the boundary of the site.

Will the workers park their vans on the roads and pavements outside my house?

No, all our operatives and staff will park on site in a designated area. Access will be provided off Londonderry Lane and it will be separate to where construction deliveries will be made. This will prevent any queuing traffic on Londonderry Lane. There won’t be any site access from Manor Road. 

Will I be able to use the park while the aquatics centre is being built?

No, the site boundary will be secured to prevent unauthorised access. We will be speaking to local schools about the dangers of construction sites. We use these visits to explain more about the construction industry. We want children and adults to get involved in the industry. Safety is our highest priority, to our supply chain, our staff and the public.

When do the works start?

Sandwell will be completing some tree maintenance works as part of their parks programme in February 2019 prior to the building works.

Mid-way through 2019 works will start on diverting an existing culvert and prepare for the new electrical supply. The main construction works will start at the end of 2019 and will continue until the beginning of 2022. The Commonwealth Games are in August 2022 so the site will be prepared for this worldwide event.

Who can I talk to about the building works once it starts?

A contact name and number will be provided in the newsletter and it will be displayed on the fencing at the site entrance. We want to be a good neighbour and welcome discussions around how we can improve what we do.

Can I get involved in the works?

The project will require local businesses to get involved and a “meet the buyer” event will be held in early 2019 to allow local businesses to talk with Wates (the contractors who will be building the centre) and the council about the project and the service required. Opportunities will also be advertised on Find It in Birmingham and Find it in the Black Country. There will also be opportunities to get involved in the Games both as a supplier and volunteer. 
 

General Issues

Parking 

As part of our planning for the building of the centre, we would ensure adequate parking for day-to-day use of the centre, plus there will be a full transport management plan for the Commonwealth Games itself.

The council are also working with partners to improve the public transport serving the site which will leave a lasting legacy for all residents who live in the surrounding area.
 
Loss of green space

The new leisure centre will be designed to maximise the green space on the site with a new urban park and children’s play area included in the plans. The council will also improve the trees on the site and include diverse planting in the plans to improve the bio-diversity of the site and encourage wildlife. 

The council are working with Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund’s Parks for People Programme on a £5.1m project to improve West Smethwick Park which is within 500m of Londonderry Playing Fields. The council are also working with partners to protect the enhanced green space on the site and another green space in the local vicinity for generations to come.

Ecology of the site

The site specific survey work has confirmed that the majority of the site is largely unconstrained by ecology or biodiversity and that, as such there are unlikely to be any significant ecological impacts arising from the proposed development. 

Choice of location 

We considered our choice of location very carefully. We need a site that’s big enough and can be developed quickly due to the tight timescales. This site is also very well placed for people to get to for the community for generations to come. It’s also in the area where a real need for improved swimming facilities has been identified so this is a golden opportunity to provide a state-of-the-art facility for the future. Londonderry Playing Fields fits the bill perfectly to achieve this and means that the new centre can be developed without the need to extend beyond the boundary of the site.

Londonderry Playing Fields has an industrial background and is an old clay pit and tip that has subsequently been covered over. The council has done numerous investigation into the ground at the Playing Fields and it is suitable for the development of a new leisure centre.

Why close Smethwick Swimming Centre and Langley Swimming Centre? 

We do ultimately need to replace the two aging and uneconomical swimming centres in the area. However, these will remain open until services transfer to the new centre. People who use the centres have told us they want modern facilities and we see this as a golden opportunity to provide the local community with a state-of-the-art centre for the future.