Plans for the new Northfield Leisure Centre have been submitted to Birmingham City Council for approval. 

Members of the public can have their say on the plans until 14th July 2016.

The leisure centre’s pools are currently closed after chlorine resistant bug cryptosporidium was found in the system.

Brand new facility

nlc1The current leisure centre and pool building will be demolished, starting in September this year. Work on a new building at the current site will commence in November, and it is anticipated that the new centre will open in April 2018.

The facility will include a 6 lane 25m pool, a learner pool, changing facilities, a fitness suite, a dance studio and a community room.

As part of the plans, some current features will be lost: there will be no steam or sauna facilities and no ICE gym – one of three gyms equipped for young people 8-16 across Birmingham. The main pool will be 25m long, compared to the current 30m pool.

Location debate

A long and heated debate and consultation on the location of a new build centre followed Birmingham City Council’s decision to build a new facility back in 2014. Options included the current site, the Longbridge redevelopment and Prices Square in the centre of Northfield.

decision was made in March last year that the new build would go ahead on the current site.

Alternative facilities during rebuild

imageThe running of the site, along with 7 others, has now been taken over by the Serco managed Birmingham Community Leisure Trust and the centre will remain operational until demolition in September.

Tiverton Pool in Selly Oak, earmarked for closure, will be kept open as an alternative facility while the Northfield new build takes place.

Historic landmark lost

The history of Northfield baths:

Image by Yanat on Panoramio
Cropped from image by Yanat on Panoramio | Click for original
  • Northfield baths opened on 8th May 1937 and were the first in Birmingham to be built solely for the purpose of recreation.
  • The building was designed by Henry Simister for the Birmingham Baths Committee. There were two pools, as there are now, with a large cafe overlooking.
  • The fitness suite was added in the 1980s.
  • The refurbishment in 2003 was the last major spend on the building.
  • Situated opposite the Black Horse on Bristol Road South, the building is considered a local landmark.

Although the landmark facade of the building is to be lost, proposed plans include retaining some of the key features of the building – such as the weather vane – in the landscaping around the new centre.

imageWhen plans were released in March, Northfield MP Richard Burden said: “I am disappointed that it looks like the facade of the current building is not being retained. It is an important local landmark and that will be lost even if the new pool preserves a few features from the old one. It looks like the loss of the facade is down to shortage of space on the existing pool site. This was one of the reasons I supported building a new leisure centre somewhere else – like Northfield’s Price’s Square just up the road. That option wasn’t to be, though, and we need to make what has been agreed work as well as possible. The key thing is that Northfield needs a quality new pool and leisure centre, and it is getting one.”

Improved facilities?

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “The £8million investment into rebuilding the Northfield Leisure facility is expected to support wider regeneration in the area, as well as greatly enhance the health and fitness provision for local residents by making sporting activity and swimming more accessible to a greater number of people wanting to enjoy an active lifestyle.

“The community area will offer a great space for hosting community functions and events in a safe, secure and modern environment.”

Northfield MP Richard Burden said: “The Council promised to build a new pool and leisure centre in Northfield and these plans show they are as good as their word.

“So I want to congratulate the council on its investment – particularly when the city is suffering such big cuts from the Government.”

Your views

Plans can be viewed and commented on via the Birmingham City Council planning site until 14th July 2016.

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1 COMMENT

  1. If Birmingham City Council is so short of money, why not spend less keeping the current pool open than spending at least £8 million building a replacement which looks something like a faceless warehouse. A delightful and functional is being replaced with something out of the Lego book of bad architecture.

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