Birmingham’s planned £58 million Aquatics and Leisure Centre, which is to include an Olympic size swimming pool, could be cut dramatically in size and built at less than half the cost.
City council officials are considering scrapping a large fun pool and a separate diving pool which were to have been central features of the new centre. Only the 50 metre pool would remain on the proposed site close to the NIA in Ladywood, along with a new sports hall and pitches.
Cabinet leisure member Martin Mullaney said plans for a scaled down version of the Aquatics Centre were being developed following discussions with the Amateur Swimming Association.
He believes the cost of the project could be cut to about £20 million, enabling the council to get the Olympic pool built and open by 2014.
Coun Mullaney said a diving pool had only been included in order to form part of a possible Birmingham bid for the Commonwealth Games. But a recent change in rules meant diving was no longer a compulsory event.
As far as the fun pool was concerned, Coun Mullaney said the council could not afford to go ahead in the present financial climate with what was bound to be a loss-making venture.
He added: “I have spoken to the Amateur Swimming Association and what they are saying very clearly is that we can cut the cost of this project significantly.
“By getting rid of the diving pool you don’t need such a high ceiling or such a deep pool and that will reduce costs.’’
The move was criticised by leisure srcutiny committee chairman John Alden, who warned that a scaled down centre would not be good for Birmingham’s image.
Coun Alden (Con Harborne) added: “It will be rather sad if we don’t have a diving pool. If you are a keen diver you don’t want to have to travel to Sheffield to train, you want somewhere locally in Birmingham.’’