Location of Sandwell's Commonwealth Games swimming centre revealed
The location of a £60 million aquatics centre to be built in the Black Country for the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been revealed.
The state-of-the-art facility will be built on playing fields in Londonderry Lane, Smethwick, and will feature an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a 25-metre diving pool and 5,000 spectator seats.
The aquatics centre will host swimming and diving events at the Commonwealth Games in four years' time, after Birmingham was confirmed as the host city for the event last month.
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Once the Games are over, the centre will then serve as a leisure facility for people in the area.
It has also been confirmed that the aquatics centre will replace for the outdated Smethwick Swimming Centre, also known as Thimblemill Baths, and Langley Swimming Centre, which will close when the new facility is ready.
Work is expected to start early next year to ensure it is up and running in time for the Games.
The aquatics centre will also have two activity studios, a 12-court sports hall, a 125-station gym, a 25-station ladies-only gym, an indoor cycling studio, a sauna/steam room and a café.
Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling said the arrival of the Games would bring major benefits for the borough.
He said: “The Commonwealth Games is going to be a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the West Midlands.
“Here in Sandwell, we are very proud to be part of it and to be chosen to host the aquatics centre, which will include diving and swimming events.
“The eyes of the world will be on Sandwell and the benefits to the local economy will be huge with significant investment into the area and athletes and visitors from around the globe."
Councillor Eling added: “We were already looking to improve swimming facilities in the south of the borough. With the Commonwealth Games coming to Birmingham, we will now be able to build an even better new leisure facility to serve the local community for decades to come.
“I am delighted we can now announce our proposed site for the centre. Londonderry Playing Fields is well-placed to meet the needs of local people and is in an area highlighted as having a high demand for a swimming facility."
"The authority will need planning permission before work can start and Councillor Eling said there would be a consultation process with residents and businesses."
He added: “The new state-of-the-art aquatics centre will ultimately replace our aging and uneconomical swimming centres in the area – Thimblemill and Langley.
“However, these will remain open until services transfer to the new centre.
“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.”
The cost of building the new centre will be met by various organisations, including the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, Sandwell Council and Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, the council said.
Bosses also said they would look to provide alternative space for playing fields in the borough.