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Bury St Edmunds multi-million pound public service hub to feature bigger eight-lane swimming pool



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Work on a new multi-million pound public services hub in Bury St Edmunds has gone out to tender - and a bigger eight-lane swimming pool is now being incorporated into the leisure centre element of the plans.

West Suffolk Council confirmed the first stage of tendering to test the market was launched on January 10 for the Western Way hub, which will see the former depot building in Olding Road given a new lease of life.

The proposals, costing somewhere between £91million and £132m, will include a brand new leisure centre and business space alongside key services like police, councils, health services, libraries, Citizens Advice and others.

Updated CGI image of the main entrance and skatepark for the Western Way hub plans in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council
Updated CGI image of the main entrance and skatepark for the Western Way hub plans in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council

Concerns were raised in the summer by the Independent Paul Hopfensperger that the planned six-lane swimming pool would not be future-proofed when a bigger eight lane pool could be accommodated, and the council has now confirmed it is planning an eight lane 25m pool.

The council said it always had the flexibility for that, and its evidence now supported the case for a bigger pool. That will be in addition to a four-lane teaching pool with moveable floor and other leisure facilities.

Elsewhere, the council has also confirmed that the existing skatepark will be upgraded with the input of those using the facilities, and a new pavilion is planned for the athletics track to operate as a standalone facility.

Updated CGI view of the pool hall at the Western Way hub in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council
Updated CGI view of the pool hall at the Western Way hub in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council

Cllr Jo Rayner, portfolio holder for leisure, culture and community hubs for West Suffolk Council, said: “From the beginning we have designed this scheme to be cost neutral and flexible to meet future needs while bringing a range of public and private services together into one place to deliver benefits greater than the sum of their parts.

"This has meant we have recently been able to include an eight-lane pool in the design as well as more environmentally-friendly initiatives.

"We have already seen the benefits for the wellbeing of residents at Mildenhall at putting health and leisure services together. At the same time people will find it easier to access services and have modern facilities designed for their needs.”

The authority said tenders for works will continue through 2022 with hopes for on-the-ground work to begin in 2023 and opening planned for 2025.

Updated CGI image of the internal street for the Western Way hub in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council
Updated CGI image of the internal street for the Western Way hub in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council

Council leader John Griffiths said: “The Western Way development will benefit residents across West Suffolk and is part of wider work to improve the prosperity, health and wellbeing of our communities.

"It is a multi-million investment in all our futures and a nationally ground-breaking initiative which will transform the way public services work together.

"This is an exemplar of the one public estate ethos while at the same time creating new and better jobs.”

Updated CGI of the sports hall element of the Western Way hub in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council
Updated CGI of the sports hall element of the Western Way hub in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: West Suffolk Council