Work begins on Sandwell's Commonwealth Games Aquatics Centre this month
Work to prepare the site of the new multi-million pound Sandwell Aquatics Centre will start this month.
Planning permission for the £62 million state-of-the-art facility at Londonderry Playing Fields, in Smethwick, was given the green light earlier this year.
Work to clear and prepare the site will start in the coming weeks, with building work set to begin later this year.
The preparatory work will include the removal of the children's play equipment, demolition of the existing football changing rooms and work on the electricity and water supplies to the site.
The children's play area will be reinstalled at nearby Black Patch Park.
Once completed, the leisure centre will host the swimming and diving events for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
It will have a 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool, a 25m diving pool and a studio pool, as well as 1,000 permanent spectator seats.
Additional seating will be added on a temporary basis for the Commonwealth Games.
Councillor Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for safer communities, said she was looking forward to seeing the aquatics centre begin to be developed.
She said: "This is an exciting time for Sandwell and our residents. We want this new facility to really inspire people young and old to get involved in new sports and leisure activities, become more active and live healthier lifestyles.
“The centre will also leave an amazing legacy for Sandwell and will provide access to top-class sporting facilities for local people beyond the Commonwealth Games in 2022.”
When the facility opens to the public, the community will benefit from the installation of a new children's play area, football changing facilities, football pitch and an urban park.
Other facilities will include more than 300 on-site car parking spaces, three activity studios, minimum eight-court sports hall, 108-station gym, 25-station ladies-only gym, indoor cycling studio, dry diving centre, sauna/steam room and café.
Plans for the centre had been highly controversial and sparked complaints and protests from residents.
Members of the Save Londonderry Playing Fields group protested outside Sandwell Council House ahead of the authority's decision to approve the facility.
Campaigners said the project should be built on a brownfield site and not on green space in Smethwick as it would lead to the loss of valuable green space, while traffic congestion and vehicle emissions would add to air pollution in the area.
They are now calling for the decision to be called in by the Secretary of State.
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