Councillors approve Rhyl aquatic centre scheme

Reporter:

Suzanne Jordan and Annie Roberts

AMBITIOUS plans to build a new aquatic centre and relocate the town’s popular skate park have gathered pace.

Commitments to make head way with proposals - to regenerate Rhyl’s waterfront and create a new leisure attraction - was debated by members of Denbighshire County Council today (Tuesday) at a full council meeting. The new attraction is expected to boast a leisure area based around a large pool, an indoor ‘splash adventure’, indoor and outdoor flume rides, climbing facilities, beach changing huts and more.

Two options were put before councillors. One included a 25 metre x eight lane swimming pool, with movable floor and a spectator gallery for 110 person. Option two – which was the preferred choice – will see the same leisure provisions but swimming waters would be retained at Rhyl Leisure Centre.

Members voted in favour (27 for and one abstention) and approved the recommendation of the Strategic Investment Groups to adopt option two of the business case for development of a new Waterpark and Leisure Attraction in Rhyl. A funding strategy was also agreed, allowing officers to progress with the next stages of implementation. This includes seeking planning approval and securing funding contributions from Rhyl Town Council and the Welsh Government.

The aquatic centre is earmarked for the seafront and will be built over the current children’s paddling pool and skate park site. The new venture, to open by Easter 2019, will create 60 jobs.

Prior to today's full council meeting, Rebecca Maxwell, corporate director at Denbighshire County Council, said: “This is part of the next stage of works. We’ve achieved a lot but there is more to do. Our next stage is to move Rhyl from an area that needs intervention to an area of economic development. Our strategy for that is all about attracting footfall for the town.

”By investing in this we can create 60 jobs directly and 350,000 additional visits to the town.”

Jamie Groves, head of facilities, assets and housing, said: "This is something that is needed for Rhyl, Denbighshire and for the coast."

Speaking on where the skate park could be relocated to, Mr Groves added: “I wouldn’t want to consider that without consulting the young people and the town. I’ve got no preconceived ideas.

”We have set aside a budget to do it and if we get a decision today, we will start that process. We don’t know what the council decision will be so we don’t know if there is a need to relocate it yet.”

Planning permission has already been granted for developments around the theatre, including external refurbishment of the Pavillion, a hotel – Travelodge, family pub/restaurant – Marstons, a third commercial unit, refurbishment of the Sky Tower and for works to the Children’s Village car park. Work started last week on the creation of a new car park on the Eastern side of the venue whilst work will start this month on transforming the Sky Tower into a decorative light beacon.

Councillor Barry Mellor said: "This (aquatic centre) is probably the most critical element of the whole regeneration of what is happening along the waterfront.

"This facility is desperately needed. There is a real buzz about the town. There is real confidence here. I think this will be the catalyst of more major, private construction coming into this area. This will make Denbighshire. The facility might be in Rhyl but we will all benefit.

"I was all for option one when it came to the table. I do now believe that option two is the option we should be going for."

Councillor Hugh Evans, leader of Denbighshire who is also cabinet lead member for the economy, said: “We have made Rhyl our priority. We have invested in the bowls centre and The Nova - which are in Prestatyn - and also the demolition of the Sun Centre which a lot found difficult in understanding.

"I do not believe that Rhyl has been taken seriously in the past.

"The pieces of the jigsaw are beginning to fit together and a clear picture is emerging. Rhyl will move from a challenging regeneration project but to one of economic development.

"These are really exciting times for Rhyl, with our vision for regenerating the waterfront area progressing at a pace and people will be seeing real signs of developments going on around the Theatre and the promenade area.”

The wider regeneration of the waterfront is being developed in four zones – the waterpark area; family entertainment, hospitality and the active leisure zones.

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