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Revitalising the UK’s swimming pool landscape for less

7th September 2020

Matt Sanders

Many people were frustrated by the delay in opening swimming pools as lockdown restrictions eased. That frustration has now turned into despair with the news that some pools may never open again.

Coronavirus has only served to compound the problem of the UK’s dwindling swimming pool numbers. 

Swimmers left high and dry

Since the government announced pools could reopen on 25th July (after a wait of 128 days), research from Swim England has revealed that 223 of the 1,002 publicly accessible swimming pools remain closed indefinitely. 

Some remain closed due to staffing costs, others because of urgent costly repairs and upgrades to pool tanks, filtration and plant. 

That’s because, according to Swim England, 44% of England’s swimming pools are more than 30 years old. Considering that pools are built with a 25 to 30-year lifespan, the chances of older pools reopening seem pretty remote.

Building back better – how to boost dwindling pool numbers

As the national governing body for swimming, Swim England is seeking practical and affordable solutions to the ageing stock of swimming pools within the UK. Therefore in conjunction with a group of leading industry specialists, including the award-winning Cowan Architects, Paragon Structures carried out a feasibility report to develop a blueprint for the future of swimming facilities.

Our report aims to give Swim England and local communities what they need the most – a cost-effective swimming and activity centre to replace the ageing stock of pools.

Richard Lamburn, head of facilities at Swim England, says: “As the national governing body for swimming, our role is to ensure our facilities are protected and supported in reopening following Covid-19. 

“We also have an eye on the long-term future and the replacement of ageing, unsustainable facilities. We therefore welcome solutions put forwards such as this for local and private sector partners to consider when developing long-term strategies for the replacement and addition of swimming facilties.”

Promoting health and wellbeing in an environmentally friendly, cost-effective package calls for cutting-edge building and pool technology. By using our insulated, tensioned membrane structure to build new swimming pools and facilities we can achieve multiple benefits:

·        Lower build costs: The price per square metre comes in around £2,500. In traditionally built pools, this figure is closer to £4,000.

·        Increased energy efficiency and sustainability: Compared to traditional pool buildings, the running costs and carbon footprint of these structures are much lower. Plus, our buildings have a BREEAM rating of Excellent (placing them in the top 10% of buildings in terms of sustainability performance).

·        Reduced maintenance: The cutting-edge design and corrosion-resistant structure keeps maintenance costs to a minimum.

·        Rapid build time: The fully insulated structure can be erected in five weeks, with the fit-out taking 35-40 weeks compared to a year or more for a conventionally built structure.

In addition to providing a state-of-the-art swimming facility, the flexibility of the Sprung structure allows the design to be tailored to meet the individual needs of the community. Our detailed floor plan includes space for activity areas, a changing village, café, viewing galleries, reception and offices.

Swimming for all

There’s more than just the physical benefit of taking the plunge; swimming is just as important for our mental wellbeing, social lives, and escapism.

Swim England’s Value of Swimming report showed that swimming participation in England saves the health and social care system more than £357 million each year. The report also highlights that swimming significantly reduces the symptoms of anxiety or depression for 1.4 million British adults.

If the decision around whether to reopen pools is based purely on profit, those in less affluent areas are going to miss out.

Sprung structures can be used for a whole range of sports, not just swimming.   

Our goal is to get the nation active through high quality, low-cost, energy efficient sporting facilities. At Paragon Structures, we want to level the playing field and provide the facilities our communities need to stay active.

Take a closer look at our feasibility study for Swim England and the other projects we’ve recently completed.

Alternatively, you can get in touch with me or another member of the Paragon team to discover what our structures can offer you or to request your own feasibility report.

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