University continues to struggle with funding for new pool

It has been revealed this week that the University of York is no closer to securing full funding for a public swimming pool at Heslington East.

As Nouse reported last year, the project was initially suffering a £4 million funding gap, and fresh analysis shows the University is no closer to reaching its target.

The University has earmarked £5 million for the scheme, with the council adding £2 million, but a report going before the authority’s audit and governance committee next week says that it has yet to enter into a “binding legal agreement” over developing the planned 12-lane, 25-metre pool and sports facilities.

The University of York and City of York Council are now looking into “different funding arrangements”, including private sector investment, which officials have argued could allow “more cost-effective borrowing”.

However, Charlie Croft, the authority’s assistant director of lifelong learning and culture, has admitted that the concentration of national sporting cash on the 2012 Olympics could hamper this, especially since there was currently “no agreed programme” for the development.

Such a disruption to the project has increased worries that it may take even longer than the original completion prediction of 25 years, although Mr Croft has previously said this was “a worst-case scenario”.

“It was originally envisaged the pool would be completed in 2011,” said Mr Croft in the report.

“However, alongside the first phases of developing the new campus at Heslington East, the University has had to expand its capital programme to take on additional projects. This has caused it to draw more heavily upon capital borrowing than had been expected.”

“In these circumstances, the University has been forced to reprioritise its capital planning. A completion date of 2011 is contingent upon the business plan providing financial balance.”

The University released a similar statement, commenting: “The University is continuing discussions with City of York Council on ways of delivering the swimming pool and associated fitness facilities. The economic downturn and its impact on the availability of capital has meant the task of bridging that funding gap has become more challenging, but discussions with the Council are continuing.”

“We recognise that a swimming pool would be a significant attraction for students and staff, and it remains our aspiration to deliver a viable pool. We continue to examine a range of business models to realise this.”

5 comments

  1. It’s absurd that we don’t already have a pool for University use, never mind the fact that one might not even be built in the biggest period of development since the University was created.

    Not only that, but University clubs absolutely must be able to book the pool for their sessions for at least an hour a week each (which isn’t looking likely in the current plans). At the moment, swimming and waterpolo, octopush, canoe polo and canoe all either travel outside of York to hire a pool or pay up to £90 an hour for its usage. Even taking into account their grants, this still makes all of the pool-using clubs touch and go in terms of their financial viability.

    Universities from Lancaster to Aberystwyth have their own pools (I’ve chosen these due to their comparable number of students, but of course York will significantly increase its student numbers before the pool’s built). Considering the amount of money being poured into the Heslington East developments, a swimming pool would actually be a relatively small investment.

    I’m a little uneasy about the council arrangement, too. It seems as though this might make it less likely that clubs will be able to hire the pool. What’s stopping it effectively being a public, council-run pool that the University has put millions of pounds towards?

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  2. It’s amazing what news you can find on the York Press website isn’t it.

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  3. Once Langwith has moved and another college built, around 2016-2017, the university will have money to spend on this. Making them do it sooner will be more difficult. At the very least there’s no chance of the university funding the excess themselves until after Library refurbishment and after the appalling problems with Absolute Leisure Ltd getting a business to support funding could backfire massively.

    But the University’s agreement with the council is that the pool and fitness structures are still going to be among the very first amenities on Hes East so I’m hopeful that we’ll see it finished around the end of the decade. Still a decade late though, as far as I’m concerned :(

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  4. So does this mean i don’t have to do my essay??? XXXX

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  5. I read so many articles with poorly-written content that your article is very impressive. It’s good to know there are writers that can write well and make their points clear.

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