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.”