Plan to close Crown Pools in major shake-up of Ipswich sports facilities

An artist's impression of the new aquatics centre at Portman Road car park

An artist's impression of the new aquatics centre at Portman Road car park - Credit: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Plans to close Crown Pools and build a new aquatics centre in the town centre have been unveiled, as part of a major shake-up of Ipswich's sport facilities. 

Ipswich Borough Council has announced a new Sports Facilities Strategy, which will see a new complex built on Portman Road car park – next to Ipswich Town’s stadium – to replace Crown Pools and provide a pool with flumes, a bigger gym and fitness class facilities, as well as a soft play area and café. 

A new sports and athletics centre at Gainsborough offering an eight-court sports hall, bigger gym and fitness suites, new extended provision for the gym centre, an eight-lane athletics track as well as grass and artificial pitches and changing rooms has also been proposed. 

The planned new sports and athletics centre to replace Gainsborough Sports Centre

The planned new sports and athletics centre to replace Gainsborough Sports Centre - Credit: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

The Gainsborough facility, in Brazier’s Wood Road, is set to open for Easter 2025, while the new aquatics centre has a targeted opening date of 2027. 

As part of the strategy, the council is also returning the management of the community use at Northgate Sports Centre back to Suffolk County Council, which owns the facility.  

Crown Pools is set to close

Crown Pools is set to close - Credit: ARCHANT

It is also planning to use land designated for sports at Ravenswood to develop pitches with a pavilion similar to that which it operates at Ransomes on Sidegate Avenue. 

Further proposals include steps to make Fore Street swimming pool more energy-efficient and to continue support to bring Broomhill swimming pool back into operation. 

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, says the new sports centres will be 'better quality'

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, says the new sports centres will be 'better quality' - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

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The borough council’s leader Cllr David Ellesmere said: “Ipswich deserves the best sports facilities and that’s why it is being recommended that the council invests in a new aquatics centre, replaces the current Gainsborough Sports Centre with a major new sports, gymnastics and athletics centre on the current site and looks to make future improvements at Whitton. 

“Our new sports centres will be better quality, greener and help even more residents keep healthy and have fun at state-of-the-art facilities.”

Cllr Bryony Rudkin, portfolio holder for sport at Ipswich Borough Council

Cllr Bryony Rudkin, portfolio holder for sport at Ipswich Borough Council - Credit: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Councillor Bryony Rudkin, the council’s portfolio holder for sport, said: “Our sports facilities mostly date from the 1980s and are increasingly challenging and costly to operate as well as a bit old fashioned.  

“This Sports Facilities Strategy demonstrates our commitment to ensuring Ipswich residents have access to high quality community sports and swimming facilities and to meeting our carbon reduction targets.” 

Queues wait outside Crown Pools for the new facility to open in 1984

Queues wait outside Crown Pools for the new facility to open in 1984 - Credit: ARCHANT

Crown Pools was opened in 1984 and has undergone improvements, including £4m spent on the centre in 2012 to upgrade the three pools, strengthen the roof and provide new heating and filtering systems.