Test Valley Borough Council has released a press release stating that it will provide temporary swimming facilities, despite not having gained planning permission to build a temporary swimming pool, or having any firm or appropriate plans in place for the use of another local pool.
The Council has submitted a planning application to themselves asking permission to erect a temporary pool at Shepherds Spring Lane car park. Andover's only swimming pool will close on 1st April 2017 and is not anticipated to reopen for two years whilst the new Andover Leisure Centre is built.
A spokesperson for TVBC told Andover & Villages today that an estimated cost for the temporary pool could not be released owing to the commercial nature of the decision and that the discussions were 'confidential', in addition to that, the spokesperson said that if the permission for the temporary pool was not forthcoming, then the council would be looking to enter into a partnership with other local swimming facilities to provide on going service. It is not clear what local facilities could match the capacity of the current leisure centre pool.
Community and Leisure Portfolio Holder, Councillor Tony Ward, said: “We have been investigating the options for temporary swimming facilities since we announced the preferred contract bidder in November. We have listened to concerns from residents and acknowledge that the closure of the swimming pool will affect many groups, clubs and individuals. A planning application has been submitted to erect a temporary pool at Shepherds Spring Lane car park, and we are continuing to examine alternative options as well. If no viable alternative options are identified by the time a planning decision on the temporary pool is made, and if that decision is favourable, the Council will proceed with the temporary pool.”
The Council’s Northern Area Planning Committee will consider the application in due course.
Hampshire County Councillor, Tony Hooke told Andover & Villages, "The whole process used by TVBC for the new build of Andover's Leisure Centre is completely flawed.
"The new Leisure Centre will be smaller than what we currently have, which is crazy when you consider how much bigger our town is than when the current facilities were built some 50 years ago, how can less facilities cope with such a growing local population?
"Andover's public has not been consulted appropriately, the process has not been transparent and when the news was released to the press, TVBC realised what a big mistake they had made with the huge public outcry, and hastily arranged a vote for the temporary pool, which was held in secret. The vote was tight with 16 votes against and 17 votes for the temporary facilities to be built.
"I will be mounting a legal challenge against the process which has not engaged the people of Andover, nor their needs and requirements for leisure facilities in the town."