141104. Cape Town. Newlands Swimming Pools. This is a municipal swimming pool managed by the Department of Sports and Recreation of the City of Cape Town. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus
141104. Cape Town. Newlands Swimming Pools. This is a municipal swimming pool managed by the Department of Sports and Recreation of the City of Cape Town. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Newlands pool could be scrapped

By Anél Lewis Time of article published Jan 21, 2015

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Cape Town - With the City of Cape Town going “back to the drawing board” to consider future development scenarios for the Newlands swimming pool, it’s possible that the suburban pool could be scrapped to make way for a mixed-use development.

It is also possible that the proposed aquatic centre could be built somewhere else, and not in Newlands.

These are among the development options that will be considered if the city gets approval from council next week to spend R3 million on feasibility studies for the pool precinct.

Ian Neilson, mayoral committee member for finance, said on Tuesday that while the city still supported the construction of a world-class aquatic centre that would attract international events, it would take a holistic approach.

“We will look more broadly at the locations of swimming pools and aquatic centres overall because we are aware that there are other possible locations.”

On Tuesday the mayoral committee approved a recommendation to cancel the city’s agreement with Swimming SA to redevelop Newlands Swimming Pool into an aquatic centre.

The agreement, signed in 2010, was based on Swimming SA’s ability to raise the funds it needed to get the land rights that would allow a mixed-use development on land zoned for public use.

It was hoped that the income from the sale of the property would be used to partially fund the cost of the aquatic centre.

The additional costs would be sourced and secured by Swimming SA from national and provincial sponsors as well as donors.

However, the funding never materialised as private sector investors felt it would be too risky to spend money on feasibility studies when there was no guarantee that they would get rights to develop the land.

With the city responsible for the statutory approvals needed for any development, this risk would be mitigated and investors would be more likely to back the project.

Neilson said later that various development options would be considered, including the redevelopment of the precinct without any swimming pool, or to maintain Newlands as a recreational facility and to build the aquatic centre in Bellville or elsewhere in the city.

It was estimated 14 years ago that it would cost almost R45m to upgrade the Newlands pool to international standards and R62m to relocate the pool to an entirely new venue. These costs would have escalated significantly since then.

“All of our sports need facilities and a city of this size needs to continuously upgrade its facilities. We will look at whether Newlands is the best place for an aquatic centre. It is open-ended at this stage,” Neilson said.

According to the report considered by the mayoral committee on Tuesday, the city’s property management department has indicated that the development proposal can be revised and amended so that the property is used more efficiently.

Neilson said other codes, such as tennis, also needed facilities on a par with international standards.

“We need high-quality facilities if we are going to compete internationally.”

He added that other sporting codes, such as bowls and golf, were struggling to pull the numbers and that these facilities were being consolidated as the demand waned. The city needed to respond to these patterns of use, and make sure that the facilities that were being used were upgraded accordingly, he said.

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Cape Argus

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