A state-of-the-art leisure centre for Smethwick has been given the go-ahead.

The £60 million Commonwealth Games Aquatic Centre will host the swimming and diving competitions for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games .

Councillors approved planning permission for the project which will include a 50 metre Olympic-sized competition swimming pool, a diving pool plus two gyms, three activity studios and an eight-court sports hall.

Cllr Bill Gavan, cabinet member for leisure and Commonwealth Games, speaking after councillors passed the plans, said: “This is a very exciting moment for us.

Artist’s impression of proposed Commonwealth Games Aquatic Centre.
Artist’s impression of proposed Commonwealth Games Aquatic Centre.
 

“The centre will provide Sandwell with the opportunity to host a sporting event of international significance and leave a legacy which will give local people access to a world-class leisure facility for generations to come.”

It will be built on playing fields on Londonderry Lane despite objections from some residents who raised fears over traffic congestion and air pollution.

Councillors were told there had been eight letters from objectors to the scheme along with a petition signed by 219 people.

Keith Price, from the Save Londonderry Lane Playing Fields Campaign, told the planning committee that although residents had been consulted on the building there had no consultation on reduction of the playing fields area.

Artist’s impression of proposed Commonwealth Games Aquatic Centre, Sandwell.
Artist’s impression of proposed Commonwealth Games Aquatic Centre, Sandwell.
 

And he attacked the council for failing to do an air quality assessment.

“Air quality around there is pretty awful, particularly at certain times of the day. "I have seen absolutely nothing that tells me that monitoring has been done on that site.”

He added the council had only released a planning statement in the last week although it was drawn up in January.

He said: “We are wondering who is misleading who and why?"

Asking for approval to be deferred, he added: “In the absence of the planning statement people should be given chance to read that and add additional objections should they be needed.”

Fran May, on behalf of Wates Construction, Sandwell Leisure Trust and the Commonwealth Games organising committee urged councillors to pass the plans.

 

“The project has the full support of the council and is an opportunity to secure world class facilities to showcase the borough on an international stage and harness economic and social investment.”

She added: “It has evolved in response to an extensive community engagement and feedback and it embodies a bespoke package of mitigation measures to manage the impact and protect local interests.”

Granting planning approval, members of the committee criticised the lack of an air quality assessment and imposed conditions requiring council officers to conduct tests on the site and surrounding roads prior to and after construction.

Councillors were  told that as the site was designated as green space, approval of the development would have to be ratified by the full council at its next meeting on April 9.