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Swimming pool closed last year to be demolished for housing

A move to demolish a former swimming baths for council housing has been given the green light.

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Langley Swimming Centre. Photo: Google

Sandwell Council has finally signed off on long-held plans to demolish Langley Swimming Centre in Vicarage Road to make way for new ‘affordable’ housing.

Langley Swimming Centre closed alongside Smethwick Swimming Centre in July – just days before the opening of the £73 million Sandwell Aquatics Centre to the public.

The centre, which was built for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, boasts one of only two Olympic-sized swimming pools in the West Midlands.

A separate planning application for the proposed homes would still have to be prepared and approved before any building could take place.

Earlier this year, Sandwell councillors voted to push ahead with demolishing the two pools after the authority admitted it could no longer afford to keep hold of them.

It was revealed in 2018 that Sandwell Council was planning to knock down the ageing baths after the Commonwealth Games had finished.

This came after a move in 2012 to demolish the swimming pool alongside several leisure centres, swimming pools and sports facilities across the borough to make way for a huge new leisure complex in Smethwick.

A petition was set up calling for a mural at Langley Swimming Centre to be protected – with campaigners calling the artwork a “monument to the people of Sandwell who made it, the industrial working lives of the people of the area, and the generations that have swam and have memories of the mosaic.”

The mural, which is made up of 30,000 tiles and depicts fish, mermaids and the Greek god of the ocean, Poseidon, was unveiled in 1969 to coincide with the reopening of the baths after repair work.

More than 300 pupils from Albright High School, named after Langley chemicals company Albright and Wilson which paid for the mural, were involved in its creation.

Sandwell Council said it would be impossible to save the artwork as it was built into the wall but a smaller mural would be saved – and possibly displayed at the new aquatics centre.

The council said it would also hire a photographer to document the mural before it is torn down.