Fakenham swimming pool plans - Everything you need to know
- Credit: Archant
Hopes to bring a swimming pool back to Fakenham have been reignited, with news that North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) and the town council are working together to put together a bid in hopes of building a new 25-metre pool.
While people in the town might want to wait a while before getting their trunks on, it gives renewed hope for swimming fans who have wanted to see a pool return since its last one closed almost six years ago.
Here's a look at how a pool fits into Fakenham's past, present and future.
Fakenham swimming club opened back in 1978, running at the former Fakenham Academy site. It operated for 36 years teaching children in the town how to swim who went to the school, as well as a space for exercise classes, or leisure for people in the town.
In December 2013 the then academy's principal, Matthew Parr-Burman, delivered the news that the pool would close in August 2014, which was described as a devastating blow to the town.
At the time, Mr Parr-Burman said: 'The high maintenance and running costs of the pool, at slightly over £100,000 per year, far exceed the modest amount of revenue it generates – around £12,000 per year.”
The town pulled together to try and save the pool, with meetings, funding appeals and pleads to manage the site.
The Fakenham Swimming Pool Action group also tried to save the pool, but was told it needed to attract up to £5m needed to bring a new pool to Fakenham.
In 2015, campaigners, including Richard Crook, Janet Holdom and Ian Ponton, were still fighting to have a pool.
The trio presented the findings of over 500 questionnaires the swimming pool campaign group collected in 2014 and argued the case for a fair deal for Fakenham.
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But they were unable to bring a pool back to the town.
Active Fakenham’s Lido
The idea of a swimming pool lay dormant for several years, until 2021, when Mr Crook, chairman of Active Fakenham, started the Build the Fakenham Lido campaign.
The petition had huge support, obtained 1,666 signatures, and was also supported by the town council.
He earmarked the land at Trap Lane, which belongs to Fakenham Town Council, who could make some of this land available, but added there may be other options.
Mr Crook put together a feasibility study showing how much the pool would cost to build and run, the benefits for the town, and the employment opportunities it could create.
He then looked to fund the completion of the study via NNDC’s Community Renewal Fund (CRF) bid, which put together a group of people in Fakenham to create project bids for the funds.
Fakenham Town Council also included a feasibility study for an indoor swimming pool in their bid for funding.
A Big Splash?
Despite this unsuccessful bid, NNDC announced on May 10 that they were set to bid for government cash to fund projects in the district – including a new indoor swimming pool and multi-sports area in Fakenham.
The opening was seen after the Levelling Up Fund Round 2 Prospectus published by the government in March, North Norfolk was identified as a ‘priority one’ area for support - meaning the government was keen to see applications for projects to be submitted under the programme from the district.
They have also provided £125,000 of funding to support the development of good quality proposals.
NNDC selected Fakenham after reviewing their bid for the CRF and the council’s leader, Tim Adams, said it was immediately obvious.
What comes next?
The bid is currently being put together by NNDC and Fakenham Town Council, with a deadline for its submission on July 6.
Whilst a location is yet to be set in stone, an early suggestion from the town council believes the obvious choice for it is on the Trap Lane site, adjacent to the Fakenham Sports & Fitness Centre, which is owned by NNDC.
However, an idea of the costs of the project, or a timeline of when work might begin, will be formed over the coming weeks as the bid is put together.
A spokesman for NNDC said: “At this stage, both bids are in the planning process with budgets and logistics being discussed in the coming weeks.
“At this time both bids are in the process of being developed for submission and will involve an appraisal of development options, costs, etc such that neither a budget nor timeline can be given at this moment in time.”
After the deadline, it could be several months before we hear anything about the success of the bid."