Birmingham’s pledge to have “a swimming pool within 20 minutes walk of every resident” is gathering pace – with councillors set to approve a £2.5 million spending package next week.
Four major projects are set to receive the go ahead by the city council’s cabinet next Monday.
They are the controversial 50-metre Olympic swimming centre, a new pool and gym for Harborne and the re-opening of Moseley Road’s second pool.
But coming off the starting blocks and put onto the back burner is the refurbishment of Stechford’s Cascades Centre.
Instead the money will be spent on demolishing and re-building Sparkhill Baths.
Birmingham’s leisure chief Coun Martin Mullaney said they were also considering putting all the city’s swimming pools into a leisure trust which would release more money.
“It will take us a long way towards our goal of making sure there is a swimming pool within a 20 minutes walk of every resident,” he said.
Planning applications will be submitted for the 50-metre pool – the Birmingham Aquatic and Leisure Centre – and Harborne Baths later this month.
Last December the council announced a £2.5 million plan to improve swimming pool provision.
This covered initial work on the Olympic pool, Harborne Baths and the refurbishment of Stechford.
But at Monday’s meeting the money is expected to be divided up differently.
Coun Mullaney said although the 50- metre pool and Harborne remained unchanged, the money allocated for Stechford would now go to Sparkhill and also re-opening Moseley Road Baths’ second pool.
Moseley Road is the UK’s only grade II-listed Edwardian swimming pool but its future has been in doubt because of the cost. One of the pools re-opened several years ago, but the second one remained closed because of lack of money.
Coun Mullaney said it would cost between one and two million pounds to do this and that was the option they were now exploring.
He said Sparkhill Baths had now become a priority because it had been closed for a year after an asbestos tile fell into the water. An examination of the building revealed it was riddled with asbestos and was crumbling and would be cheaper to re-build than repair.
Coun Mullaney said: “Everything is in place – apart from the money for the 50 metre pool.
“But in September we will be presenting our business case for the funding, which will involve either selling off bits of land or running the pools as a community trust like they do in Sandwell.”