The aspiration to build a swimming pool on the West Cambridge site for University staff, students and community use remains a key ambition for the Sports Service. It also remains firmly within the City and South Cambridgeshire sports facilities strategy, with West Cambridge being identified as the preferred location to serve the west and north of the city.
The Perse School is advancing its plans to build a 25 metre 6 lane pool on its Hills Road site in the south of the city and a West Cambridge site development would complement this. The rate of growth of the city and surrounding areas means current infrastructure such as sports facilities, and water space in particular, is insufficient.
The long-awaited confirmation of planning approval for the West Cambridge site masterplan that was announced recently has added some impetus to looking at the remaining phases planned for the original Sports Centre that has now been open for 8 years.
There are a number of significant conditions to be satisfied within the planning approval such as finalising transport, energy and other infrastructure requirements. In addition to meeting the needs of students’ clubs, we believe that provision of better sport, health and wellbeing facilities, will be recognised as an important factor in making West Cambridge a desirable place to work and important in attracting commercial research companies to invest in the site.
Our aim for 2022 is to put a business case, plans and design options for indoor and Padel tennis, additional indoor multi-purpose sport space and a 25 metre eight lane pool into the University’s internal planning process.
There will be challenges around capital costs, sustainability, parking and transport to overcome and, of these facilities, the pool is the most challenging to deliver in economic terms. However, good pool-time programming that meets a range of needs from children’s swimming lessons to swimming for health, wellbeing and competition (including related activity such as water polo) can be managed to deliver a well-used facility within an efficient pool design.