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Land deal gives Swaffham pool new hope

PUBLISHED: 15:44 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:04 08 July 2010

Kathryn Cross

A major hurdle in the long-running battle to get a swimming pool for Swaffham was cleared last night after the town council announced contracts had been exchanged over the purchase of the land for the project.

A major hurdle in the long-running battle to get a swimming pool for Swaffham was cleared last night after the town council announced contracts had been exchanged over the purchase of the land for the project.

The council has paid £70,000 for a two-acre site near the town's EcoTech Centre and its solicitors expect to complete the sale next week.

Campaigners, led by the Swaffham and district Swimming Pool Association, have been pushing for a leisure centre and swimming pool in the town for more than 30 years but have been frustrated by planning problems and disputes over locations.

Swaffham town clerk Richard Bishop told the EDP the land purchase would give the people of Swaffham a realistic chance of getting their pool.

“Everything had to start from the point where we purchased the land,” he said. “Hopefully this will kick start the whole process and give the impetus to move forward at a pace. It has been a long while coming and the SPA has managed to sustain interest in the people of Swaffham for a long period of time without any real hope. But now we are putting a piece of the plan in place it gives them hope.”

Shirley Matthews, Swaffham mayor, said it was good news for the SPA who could now look forward to actually planning for the building. “A new pool for Swaffham has always been high on the list of expectations for people in the town,” she said.

Association leaders have been putting in a lot of work behind the scenes to source funding for the project which could cost between £2 million and £3 million.

“They are also putting together a business case to support and manage the facility when it arrives,” said Mr Bishop.

“We are competing with lots of projects for funding from people like Sport England and private funders. It is town against town and county against county and we have to prove we have a business case for a pool here which will provide value for money in terms of public support and viability.

“It has to tick boxes and deliver for a large number of people which is where Swaffham has fallen down in the past. It is one of the smaller towns in Breckland compared to Dereham or Thetford but it is in the mix.”

He said it was possible that funds could come in off the back of the 2012 Olympics as it was bound to create more interest in sport and swimming.

“The council is very upbeat and we now have to get our detailed drawings in. There is a long way to go but this is the first hurdle out of the way.”

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