Bosses at Ipswich council were today hopeful that the latest setback to the redevelopment of Broomhill Pool in the town will turn out to be a delay and not a cancellation of the plans.
Work to restore the pool and create a year-round fitness and leisure centre at the site was due to start in the spring – contractors were on site at the start of the year to clear some of the trees that had to go to allow work to start.
But by the time the main work was due to start, the lockdown had been imposed and nothing happened. Now the company that will run the new centre when the work is complete, Fusion Lifestyle, has put a hold on all new work while it concentrates on recovering from the lockdown which saw its existing premises across the country closed for months. Fusion runs sports and leisure centres from Newcastle to Tavistock in Devon.
A statement from the firm said:
“We appreciate just how treasured the Broomhill pool is by the local community and we would love to have some news to share. Unfortunately, the effects of Covid have been far reaching in our industry and, like all other leisure operators, our business has suffered a severe, and ongoing, shock as a result of the Covid crisis.
“Our focus in the immediate future is to restart and recover, and this must be our priority task. We are in continuing discussions with our various partners on the Broomhill Pool project on how and when we can recommence the project. We hope everyone will bear with us whilst we start to recover and work through all the priorities for our business in the months to come.”
The borough continues to talk to Fusion Lifestyle, and a spokesman said the feeling was that this was very much a delay to the project – not a cancellation. He said the council was still prepared to pay for part of the work and the funding was ring-fenced.
Much of the cost of the scheme will be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It issued a statement saying: “In December 2017, we made an offer of a grant to Fusion Lifestyle in order to restore Broomhill Pool and construct new facilities for public use and enjoyment.
“We understand that due to challenges that have arisen from the Covid pandemic, the future of the project is under consideration. We are in discussion with Fusion Lifestyle about this.”