Report questions if seafront is best place for new Afan Lido
A QUESTION mark hangs over whether Aberavon Beach is the best place to rebuild the Afan Lido.
Councillors have been told that, were it not part of the wider regeneration of Aberavon Beach, it should instead go up close to the "super-school" the council plans to build in Baglan Moors.
It's the first time such a view has been expressed publicly, and it came from the authority's own head of partnerships and community development Russell Ward.
"If we want a pure leisure proposal then we want as much leisure for as little revenue cost as possible," he said. "What you don't want to do is build it with 180 degrees of its catchment area in the sea."
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Mr Ward was answering questions and responding to comments raised by the "task and finish" group of councillors set up to revisit the proposals. This followed the failure of the council and campaigning residents to reach agreement on key issues including the provision of eight lanes, which campaigners want, and six lanes, which the council champions.
Another is the location, with residents wanting it rebuilt on its original site and the council favouring Hollywood Park, as the mainly empty site could be regenerated at the same time.
However, from what Mr Ward said, if the Afan Lido was purely a leisure proposal and not linked to the seafront regeneration, that would affect its ideal location.
"If you look at it purely as a leisure opportunity, if you look at where you might put a leisure facility, it would be somewhere with good transport links, preferably as close to major transport routes as possible, and it would have housing all around it," he said.
Neath Port Talbot is to build a £26 million super-school in Baglan Moors. It will replace Glan Afan and Cwrt Sart comprehensives, as well as Sandfields Comprehensive, which would be redeveloped into a Welsh language secondary school.
Mr Ward said: "It would be on a safe walking route between two major schools. It would make sense to locate it where the kids could walk to it, and we would not have to incur transport costs from the education budget. We would also get a huge amount of benefit in terms of cost per brick laid. It would be one huge building project rather than two."
Furthermore, he said, it meant that the pool would not be empty between 9am-5pm, when swimming pools were usually very quiet, as the schoolchildren could make use of it.
Mr Ward also admitted he could support the idea of an eight-lane pool if it was built at this alternative site.
When asked by group chairman Anthony Taylor whether any work had been done to look at alternative sites, Mr Ward responded: "No, because that was not in my instructions."
Whether the task and finish will suggest this alternative as a serious proposal remains to be seen, as it will not make its recommendations to full council until at least the end of next month.
Chairman Anthony Taylor said: "If we need more time, we will have more time."