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Petition launched amid fears £12.7m pool will belly flop

PUBLISHED: 09:46 17 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:41 22 August 2019

Inside Sheringham's  Splash. Photo: Archant Library

Inside Sheringham's Splash. Photo: Archant Library

Archant Library

A petition demanding a council reverses course on plans for a £12.7 million swimming pool has been launched, amid claims it will be "not fit for purpose".

An artist's impression of the interior of the future Sheringham Leisure Centre. Image: NNDCAn artist's impression of the interior of the future Sheringham Leisure Centre. Image: NNDC

Liam Cross has started a campaign because North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) is replacing Sheringham's Splash Leisure and Centre - without the 'beach-style' layout, wave machine and slide that have proved popular since the pool was opened in 1988.

Mr Cross, 31 and from Dersingham, near King's Lynn, said people travelled from across Norfolk to use Splash, so Sheringham businesses would see a knock-on effect if the new pool failed to live up to the current one.

He said: "The threat to Sheringham's tourism from losing this attraction is very real indeed. We all have 'traditional style' pools closer to home, and therefore would not travel to a Sheringham to use the new proposed centre.

"The replacement that has been proposed is not fit for purpose, and is an insult to the 31 years of enjoyment the current centre has brought to so many people."

Liam Cross, from Dersingham, has launched a petition urging North Norfolk District Council re-think the design of the replacement for Sheringham's Splash. Picture: Supplied by Liam CrossLiam Cross, from Dersingham, has launched a petition urging North Norfolk District Council re-think the design of the replacement for Sheringham's Splash. Picture: Supplied by Liam Cross

Mr Cross said he had visited Splash regularly throughout his life since his aunt first took him aged five.

He called for the council to invest the cash on refurbishing Splash rather than building anew.

MORE: An extra £2 million pledged for town's new pool - but still no wave machine

Virginia Gay, NNDC's portfolio holder for culture and wellbeing, said it would be "considerably more expensive" to build and maintain a slide and wave machine in a new pool.

An artist's impression of the exterior of the planned Sheringham Leisure Centre. Image: NNDCAn artist's impression of the exterior of the planned Sheringham Leisure Centre. Image: NNDC

Ms Gay said when the design was agreed upon in 2017 there was an alternative plan to refurbish Splash at a cost of £8m, but at the time, "no-one was arguing for a refurbishment".

She said: "It didn't seem like a good use of public money at the time.

"Splash is a much-loved facility and it has given a lot of people a lot of pleasure but the inescapable fact is that it's at the end of its lifetime."

Liz Withington, Sheringham's deputy mayor, said the town council did not have an official position on the issue, but: "I'm personally of the opinion that the pool will not be the attraction that it currently is without the wave machine."

Virginia Gay, Liberal Democrat candidate for North Walsham Market Cross in the 2019 North Norfolk District Council election. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATEVirginia Gay, Liberal Democrat candidate for North Walsham Market Cross in the 2019 North Norfolk District Council election. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE

The petition, which has more than 350 signatures, can be found on change.org here.

The council has argued that Sport England would have been less likely to offer funding for a facility with a beach area and wave machine than for a conventional swimming pool.

Splash's replacement: The cost

The council has argued that Sport England would have been less likely to offer funding for a facility with a beach area and wave machine than for a conventional swimming pool.

Princess Diana unveiling a plaque at the opening of Splash swimming pool in Sheringham on 11 May, 1988. Photo: Archant LibraryPrincess Diana unveiling a plaque at the opening of Splash swimming pool in Sheringham on 11 May, 1988. Photo: Archant Library

But a Sport England spokesman said it was not as simple as that, and funding would have been considered if "the council evidenced to Sport England that the wave machine would support the community in getting active."

The spokesman added: "Sport England approves the design based on Sport England design guidance notes, particularly ensuring accessibility and practicality."

MORE: "A very important asset to the town" - looking back on 30 years of Sheringham leisure centre Splash

Sport England has awarded the project £1m of National Lottery funding. Originally, the council was to pay for the rest using £4m from capital reserves and borrow a further £4.9m. But the project has gone over budget and, in July, councillors were forced to approve an extra £2m towards it.

Splash Leisure Centre and swimming pool in Sheringham.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYSplash Leisure Centre and swimming pool in Sheringham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Ms Gay pointed out the new building would have a 'splash pad' area just for children, but Mr Cross said that was not enough.

He said: "The splash pad will only be suitable for young children, and is of little use to older children and adults."

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