Ipswich Tories concerned about cost of aquatic centre

Portman Road aerial

The proposed aquatic centre would be built on council land opposite the Cobbold Stand at the top of this picture. - Credit: PA

Opposition councillors at Ipswich have warned that plans to build a new aquatics centre on Portman Road could be too expensive and saddle the borough with too much debt in future years.

And Conservative group leader Ian Fisher suggested the council could consider a partnership with the football club to share the running of any new aquatic and sports centre on the site.

The idea of building a new swimming centre at the site was first proposed by the former Conservative/LibDem administration at the borough about 15 years ago - but that was dropped.

The Conservative group has proposed building a new multi-purpose arena on the site to attract major entertainment stars.

Mr Fisher said the idea of an aquatics and sports centre had its merits - but the costs could be very high: "How could we afford this? The cost of servicing a debt for a development like this could be as much as a million pounds a year.

"Has the council talked to the football club about becoming a partner? We know that in America the owners of the club have multi-sports operations."

Mr Fisher said that his group would need to know a lot more about the proposals before they could decide whether to offer their support.

Borough leader David Ellesmere said Ipswich Town had been told about the proposals because of the impact of building a major aquatic centre opposite the Cobbold Stand.

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

Ipswich Tories have suggested the football club could partner the council in running a new aquatic centre at Portman Road. - Credit: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

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He said: "I don't think they (the club) would be interested in a partnership because they seem to be concentrating on working on plans for the new land they have recently bought behind the South Stand (the former Staples and Better Gym site)."

Ipswich Town did not want to make any comment about the plans for the aquatic centre.

Next week's meeting of the borough's executive is expected to give the go-ahead for a full survey of the site and to go ahead with drawing up plans for a new sports centre at Gainsborough.

If the proposals are approved the new Gainsborough centre could open in 2025 with the aquatic centre following two years later.