Swimmers will have to cope without district-owned pools in Leamington and Warwick for 22 weeks as planned works to improve the town’s leisure centres is set to begin.
Newbold Comyn in Leamington will be closed completely from January until May, and the pool at St Nicholas Park in Warwick will close from next month until October or November next year.
Gym users will still be able to use the equipment at St Nicholas while Newbold Comyn is closed, but St Nicholas Park is also due to close completely for four weeks in the summer.
Newbold Comyn will have reopened by that time.
Council officers admitted these closures would be unpopular with many users, but they claimed this would allow the centres to be finished as soon as possible.
Head of cultural service at the council Rose Winship said: “We’re working hard to find other pools for our users to swim in. We’re just going to have to brave this one out.”
Work to improve Newbold Comyn will take 50 weeks in total, and a 44 week plan has been drawn up for St Nicholas Park.
The improvments and new facilities will cost over £14.5 million, which includes a £2 million grant from Sport England, subject to contract.
Cllr Michael Coker, portfolio holder for culture, said: “We built two new pools 30 years ago in Warwick and Leamington, and they have been very successful.
“But they began to get old, and the time has come for us to rejuvenate the two centres.
“It will give more people the opportunity to exercise and enjoy themselves.”
One of the most controversial aspects of the plans was the decision to change the layout of the changing rooms.
Both centres will now incorporate unisex ‘village changing rooms’, which feature cubicles for individuals and families to get changed in. There will also be more open showers and cubicle showers.
This drew objections from some people who were worried about privacy issues and the potential lack of social interaction the cubicles might create. However, council officers stood firm on the changes.
Newbold Comyn’s plans include a 100-station gym, two fitness studios, changing areas, a four-court sports hall, a climbing wall for youngsters called ‘Clip and Climb’ and three new multi-use rooms.
The car park will also be moved to the other side of the path and will have 162 bays.
St Nicholas’ size will be increased with a two-storey extension, and a new foyer and spinning studio will be built.
There will be 16 new spaces in the car park from removing the coach drop-off point, and plans are being considered to encourage long-stay users to park in Myton Fields during the summer to help ease pressure from the increased demand.
The district council is still searching for a private management company to oversee the running of the centres.