A SWIMMING and leisure complex could be on the cards for Monmouth in place of the former swimming pool which was demolished last year.

Members of Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) Cabinet are to be asked today (11th January) to approve payment of £204,050 to develop plans for a new ‘leisure offer’ which would include the promised new swimming pool for the town.

The ‘leisure offer’ could comprise not only a swimming pool but also a spa, a toning suite and possibly even a tenpin ‘boutique’ bowling alley in the site vacated by the current sports hall which is to be moved into the grounds of the school from the leisure centre.

County councillors will decide whether to allocate the funding which would allow more concrete plans for the swimming pool to be made. If the investment is approved by Cabinet, it is expected the development process would take around 20 weeks before a future planning application can be made.

In October, county councillors approved £11.9 million of extra funding for the ‘Future Schools’ project, which was needed to complete the new secondary schools in Monmouth and Caldicot in their current designs.

The new pool however will not be eligible to use the funding from the ‘Future Schools’ project, instead using money granted by councillors in June 2015. At the time MCC approved a £5,168 million budget for the new pool facility, but it is expected that the enhanced leisure offer would total around £6.68 million.

The original proposal was for ‘like-for-like’ replacement of the pool, but following a feasibility study by external industry specialists, the new proposal for a future-proof option has been developed.

It is expected that the additional cost of £1.5 million will be part met through Section 106 funds from the Wonastow Road development and through additional borrowing.

Despite the extra cost, the report finds that the development would be an opportunity to invest while work is being undertaken, and that it could increase the potential for generating income and would broaden market appeal in the area.

Doubts about the future of the pool were rejected last year by senior members of MCC after the new Monmouth school project was described as a “failure of promises” by Trellech County Councillor Debby Blakebrough.

But council leader Cllr Peter Fox argued: “We have never pulled back from the commitment to replace the pool. We will be replacing the pool.”

Deputy leader of MCC, Cllr Bob Greenland commented: “Active leisure pursuits have changed over recent years and we want to keep attracting individuals and families into the leisure centre.

“Facing the prospects of increases in child obesity it is important that children find fun in using the Leisure Centre through soft play and other exciting activities.

“The cost pressures on the provision of a new school mean we can no longer expect the new pool to be funded as part of that project but I am very pleased that we can consider these new proposals which can be partly funded by better use of the leisure centre and through new facilities such as a toning suite and spa. If Cabinet agrees the proposals we can move towards the final business case which will give us cost certainty of the project.

“Once we have more clarity on what can be provided, we will be undertaking further consultation with existing users and other interested parties. This is an exciting opportunity for residents in and around Monmouth.”

Monmouth Town Councillor for Drybridge ward Mat Feakins added: “The new school alone is a massive investment for our community. Now these new proposals for not just a new swimming pool but a complete revamp for the leisure centre represent the largest public investment in the town, probably in living memory.”