£73 million Aquatics Centre not delayed by coronavirus, says Sandwell Council

Construction on the £73 million Aquatics Centre in Smethwick is making good progress despite the coronavirus outbreak, council bosses say.

The construction site as seen in March
The construction site as seen in March

Since the Covid-9 pandemic began, work has only stopped once - for 24 hours back in March - so safety measures could be put in place for workers.

The state-of-the-art facility, which will feature a 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool, is being built for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where it will host diving events.

Project bosses hope the Aquatics Centre will be finished by Spring 2022. Construction work began in February.

Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought disruption across the country, Sandwell Council says it is monitoring the project to ensure smooth progress.

Councillor Maria Crompton, deputy leader of Sandwell Council, said: "These are unprecedented circumstances which are continuing to evolve and at this stage it is speculative to assess the exact and final impact of Covid-19 on the project.

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"However, Wates Construction Limited are continuing to make good and positive progress with work on site and we are committed to delivering this project on time.

"The government announced that construction sites could remain open and, after a brief 24-hour pause in work in March to put in place checks to ensure staff could maintain social distancing and work safely, Wates Construction Limited reopened the site.

"Our main priority has always been the safety of our workforce and wider community and we have worked with Wates to ensure that work continues on the Aquatics Centre in line with government guidelines on Covid-19.

"We are continuing to monitor the situation and will work closely with all our partners to achieve a successful outcome to the project."

Alongside the Olympic-sized swimming pool, the site will feature a 25m diving pool, community swimming pool and permanent seating for 1,000 people.

Additional seating is being brought in for the Commonwealth Games.

Other facilities will include a dry dive area, activity studios, sports halls and a fitness suite. There will also be a football pitch and an urban park on site.

After the Commonwealth Games, the Aquatics Centre will be available to use by the local community. Council bosses have heralded the site as a prized asset. But local residents have complained about the site's location on Londonderry playing fields.

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