Wrexham Councillors will be told that a £12 million replacement for Waterworld in the town centre is ‘no longer affordable’, with planning to redevelop the Bodhyfryd site underway.
The future of Waterworld has been uncertain since December 2013, when leisure consultants advised Wrexham Council to close both Plas Madoc and Waterworld; with proposals to replace the town centre pool with a brand new state of the art sports facility.
Over the past 12 months there have been growing concerns over the facility and the future of the land, with Wrexham’s police station set to be demolished next year and the closure of the Bodhyfryd toilets announced earlier this week. At the time of the initial report questions were raised on the Wrexham.com Forum to the viability of plans.
Next Wednesday (18th February) Wrexham Council’s Lead Member for Communities, Collaboration and Partnerships Cllr Hugh Jones will be taking a report to the Safeguarding, Communities and Well-being scrutiny Committee in which he will be recommending that a replacement for Waterworld is no longer affordable in the current economic climate.
Wrexham Council say: “There are no immediate plans to close the facility and a condition survey of Waterworld will be carried out in order to consider the consequences of this recommendation.”
Cllr Hugh Jones said “I am asking scrutiny committee to examine the funding gap that exists which makes it likely that I will be recommending to the Executive Board that a replacement is unaffordable in the current economic climate.
“We need also to take into consideration the changing scenario from the original report with Plas Madoc having re-opened as Splash Magic and Total Fitness about to invest in their new major sports and recreation facility close by.
“In addition the Council is having to make significant and unprecedented cuts in its budget over the next two years and the need to identify savings in order to prioritise the vulnerable whilst protecting frontline services has also had a huge role to play in our decision.
“We are fortunate that the building is in a good state of repair and we will continue to maintain the building to ensure that it continues to be an important hub for the local community”.
The report to be considered asks the Scrutiny Committee to discuss topics including:
- NOT to replace Waterworld with a new leisure centre or to refurbish or extend the building, but to procure an existing leisure trust to manage the Council’s leisure centres on the basis of the status quo (continuing repair and maintenance only).
- To retain the dual-use leisure centres within the Leisure Service and to market test whether an existing leisure trust is prepared to manage them with the other leisure centres.
The report goes on to say about previous recommendations to replace Waterworld: “the Executive Board will be asked NOT to take them forward, but instead to instruct Officers to procure an existing leisure trust to manage the Council’s leisure centres on the basis of the status quo (continuing repair and maintenance, but no refurbishment, extension or replacement).”
There is also reference to ‘ the preparation of a ‘Town Centre Masterplan’ ‘ which appears to cover the whole Bodhyfryd ‘Civic Quarter’, with details given of what is occurring:
“The Masterplan is treating the Bodhyfryd site comprehensively so includes the Police Station, Magistrate’s Court, other minority land holdings and adjoining Coleg Cambria. This work is being undertaken in partnership with the key land owners (North Wales Police, Ministry of Justice & Coleg Cambria) using Welsh Government (WG) funding from the Vibrant and Viable Places Regeneration Programme (VVP).
The report says The Masterplan team are currently gathering evidence and engaging with stakeholders with a view to developing a preferred strategy for the whole town centre by the end of March 2014. The Masterplan will be the subject of public consultation in the summer and will be brought to the Board for adoption around October 2015.
The full Scrutiny Meeting can be found on the Wrexham Council website here.