An extra £2 million pledged for town's new pool - but still no wave machine
PUBLISHED: 19:46 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:19 25 July 2019
An extra £2 million needed for the replacement of Sheringham's Splash leisure centre has been given the green light, amid a refusal to include a wave machine and beach area into the design.
The Liberal Democrat-dominated North Norfolk District Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the cash injection for the project, over the original budget of £10.6m.
Virginia Gay, portfolio holder for culture and wellbeing, said at a full meeting of the council on Wednesday evening the request for extra money was not made lightly.
She said: "There is apprehension about the project because it is costing so much more than we had originally estimated. But we're at the point of no return."
Sarah Butikofer, council leader, said: "I do have concerns about this project and the way it has been managed but I think the town of Sheringham needs a new wet facility and fitness facility and I think it is important that is continued."
Speaking at the meeting, Sheringham deputy mayor Liz Withington asked that a wave machine be reconsidered for the centre.
She said: "[Sheringham Town] Council feel this new development is essential for the local health and well-being of the town and surrounding area but also as a tourist attraction.
"The benefit to the revenue of the pool by having a wave pool would be so significant that it would increase the popularity of Splash both as an attraction and encourage families to use that pool."
But Ms Gay said: "A redesign is not practical at this stage."
Just six councillors voted against the extra funding, including Conservative Tom FitzPatrick and Independent group leader John Rest.
Mr Rest said he was "very concerned" when he heard about the £2m shortfall and called for an inquiry into why it had not been identified earlier.
Mr Rest, who said he had regularly sat on meetings that dealt with the project, said: "At no time was I aware it was over budget."
Councillors also agreed an amendment for greater scrutiny of the project.
An officer's report said reasons behind the budget blowout included the potential impact of Brexit, which had led to bids from contractors to carry out the work also being higher than predicted.
Factfile: Replacing Splash
The Splash leisure centre, on Weybourne Road in Sheringham, was opened on May 11, 1988, by Diana, the Princess of Wales.
Visiting the centre on its opening day, a huge crowd gathered to greet the princess and see the new facility.
Unlike its proposed replacement, the centre includes less conventional attributes, such as a splash pad, wave pool and water flume slide.
However, in order to secure Sport England funding, the replacement design takes a more traditional form, with the pool being required to comply with sporting regulations.
In December 2017, North Norfolk District Council agreed to the scheme - then expected to cost just shy of £10.7m - before planning permission was granted in November of last year. To allow the existing facility to stay in use while construction is carried out, it was agreed to place the new building towards the front of the site. Work to clear this space is already under way.
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