HALF-WAY through its construction, the new multi-million pound swimming complex in Blackbird Leys is beginning to take shape.

Contractors began work in July on the 18-month project for a £9.23m pool to replace Temple Cowley Pools – which has just been registered a community asset – and the existing Blackbird Leys Pool.

The first stage of construction is over and residents can now see the building’s steel frame, with work on target to finish in December.

The Oxford City Council pool will have an eight-lane, 25-metre pool with moveable floor, teaching pool, soft play area and new changing facilities.

Contractors Willmott Dixon have already excavated tank areas and built the pool linings and walls, despite wet weather.

The building will form part of the enlarged leisure centre on Pegasus Road along with a new sports pavilion.

A new group exercise studio and meeting room has opened and new rooms to house a crèche and soft play area have been completed.


  • Another look at the frame of the new pool building

The crèche and soft play equipment will be moved into the new rooms in the coming weeks.

Council board member for leisure services Mike Rowley said: “I am delighted to see the steel frames being fitted.

“We have completed stage one of the redevelopment of the leisure centre and I look forward to the next stage being completed.

“The Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre is very much open and now has some great new facilities available."

The centre’s general manager David Hunt said: “We are thrilled to see the new centre taking shape.

“The fully equipped new studio is proving to be a great success.”


  • Building materials piled up for the next phase

Temple Cowley Pools could still be closed by the city council when the new facility is open.

Building work on the site was delayed by a year due to legal challenges, including two judicial reviews.The council has had planning permission and funding since 2011.

Opponents have always insisted the old pool does not need to close and should be renovated.

The council claims the new centre will cost £150,000 a year rather than the £360,000 it says it pays Fusion Lifestyle to run Temple Cowley.

The Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre will hold an open day on Thursday, May 29, to celebrate the completion of stage one.