We lost our home but major new £20m project could be exactly what this town needs

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“I think it'll make a massive difference.”

A local swimming club left without a pool for five years could finally have a new leisure centre to call home. 

In March 2018, Marple Baths was shut when the building was deemed unsafe and has remained closed ever since. This left many to travel to neighbouring towns Romiley or Hazel Grove to go for a swim. 

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Now there is hope on the horizon with a planning application submitted last month for a new community hub in Marple after the council secured £20million in Levelling Up funding 12 months ago.

The scheme would see Marple Library demolished along with the existing police station and health clinic, to be replaced with the new community and leisure facility. If approved, the new community hub would have a five-lane swimming pool, a ground floor library with a small café, a 60-station fitness suite, shared community spaces, and the relocated Marple clinic. 

It was good news for many, none more so than Marple Swimming Club. Having produced brilliant athletes including Paralympic swimmer Matt Walker MBE - who has won 11 medals at four Paralympic games - the team were faced with a challenge when their pool was shut down. 

Lucy Budd from Marple Swimming Club Lucy Budd from Marple Swimming Club
Lucy Budd from Marple Swimming Club

Head coach Lucy Budd remembers when she was told that their home had to be closed. 

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“It was about two weeks after it was announced and we were at the pool on a Tuesday night training session,” she said. “A parent came to tell me that she'd seen a Facebook message to the people who were members about the pool closing. I was in the building and the pool staff hadn't even told me.”

After the site’s closure, Lucy’s club has been training at numerous different pools to keep afloat including New Mills, Grand Central (Stockport), Hazel Grove and Romiley. 

Paralympian Matt Walker swam for Marple Paralympian Matt Walker swam for Marple
Paralympian Matt Walker swam for Marple

“We've always been really strong as a club in supporting each other,” said Lucy. “Parents have been brilliant, but more importantly the kids are all friends and because of that they share lifts and go out with each other outside of swimming.” 

Lisa Smart, a Liberal Democrats councillor in Romiley and Bredbury Green, launched a campaign last year to build a new pool and leisure centre in the town’s Memorial Park which was backed by thousands in the community. 

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News that one is on the horizon is music to the ears of Lucy and many others in the area. 

A CGI image of how the new Marple Community Hub would look A CGI image of how the new Marple Community Hub would look
A CGI image of how the new Marple Community Hub would look

“I think it'll be a good opportunity and hopefully it will get used and supported by the whole community,” she said. “I also work in a local primary school and I teach school swimming. I have classes of nine and 10-year-olds who not only can they not swim, they've never been in a swimming pool. 

“Out in Marple, it's really important for their safety with all the water around that those children can. So I think it'll make a massive difference for the community, allowing everyone to have the opportunity to do a physical exercise that they like doing in their local area.

“As a club, I do think that might encourage some of those older swimmers, particularly, to come back. We’ve always been social as a club despite doing competitive swimming. The kids have been social and they are good friends, they go out and they go on holiday with each other which I think that's quite unique for an activity that is very individual. So I think that having our own pool will make a massive difference.”

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