With less than a month to go before submitting its £20 million bid to boost Sheerness, Swale council has dropped plans to include a new indoor swimming pool.
Members of the Sheppey Area Committee were to be told last night (Tuesday) that the council has been forced to slash its budget for the Beachfields makeover. June 7
Cllr Monique Bonney, who chairs the regeneration and property committee and has been leading the levelling-up bid, admitted: “A new pool won’t be part of this phase of the bid and a number of other suggestions simply aren’t feasible on the site or wouldn’t be possible in the time scales the government has set. But we have worked up plans and costings ready for the next round of bidding."
Cllr Cameron Beart (Con, Queenborough and Halfway) said he was "disappointed" by the blow.
"We were told that the new pool was the primary focus as the existing pool was nearing the end of its economic lifespan," he said.
"This, to me, now leaves serious questions over what now for the future? Will we eventually end up with no pool at all if external funding isn't forthcoming? When will another opportunity to bid for £20m come along?"
The update follows weeks of work looking at ideas and suggestions following a huge public consultation. Some of the suggestions included restaurants with sea views and a tidal pool to allow safe paddling at low water.
Cllr Bonney said: "We were amazed - but not surprised - by the enthusiastic response to the consultation earlier this year. There were some great ideas but just as importantly there was a fantastic amount of support from the local community.
“We’ve spent the last couple of months working on options and costings for ideas and plans but we do have to be realistic.
“Big ambitions and increasing prices mean we need to think carefully about what we can put in this bid if we want it to be approved and deliver the improvements Sheerness deserves.
“By doing this work now we’re putting together a solid blueprint for breathing new life into the town and we’ll be in a stronger position than ever before to bid for other funding in the future.
“The plans we’re now finalising are the first stage in what we hope will be the revival of Sheerness, with benefits that spread across the whole Island.
“We want to deliver better facilities for residents with expansion of the health centre. There will be more opportunities for local young people with a greater range of courses available from the Sheppey College. And Master’s House will help create and support local jobs."
She added: “We want to build on the town’s holiday heritage and create a place for locals and visitors to enjoy with better connections between the high street, railway station and seafront.
“Bringing in attractions like tag active, soft play and adventure golf, alongside a new café, outdoor gym and new toilets will help bring people back to the town."
She said: "We have to thank everyone who’s helped us get to where we are now. There’s still work to do but I think we’re making great progress in putting together an ambitious bid that stays within the government’s funding limit and can start delivering genuine improvement for Sheerness.”
The Sheppey Area Committee met at Eastchurch village hall.
The final bid must be submitted by July 6.