SWIMMING enthusiasts and beginners could take a dip in brand new side-by-side pools in Taunton by the start of 2016.
Hundreds of people glimpsed what a £5.3million facility beside Blackbrook Pavilion sports centre will look like at a public consultation on Tuesday.
Most of them were impressed with the design of the two-storey building, which will house a 25-metre eight lane pool beside a learner pool.
There will also be a spa and hydrotherapy pool, a cafe, juice bar, viewing area, spectators’ seating and village changing area.
Alison North, community leisure manager at Taunton Deane Council, owners of the development, said work is due to start next January and should take a year.
She added: “The consultation was a chance for people to take a look at the design and make comments.
“People seemed very pleased something’s actually happening as we’ve been talking about it for a long time and they like the designs.”
Architect Martin Lindus said: “It’s a good mix of facilities for the community and it will be nice to see it in the flesh in 18 to 20 months.”
Project manager Jim Price said: “It’s absolutely exciting and I’m pleased with the positive feedback from people. I can’t wait for it to open.”
Former international swimmer Dr Philip Penny was among visitors at the exhibition – he said: “It’s very good value for money and a great, no-frills community pool.”
One-time synchronised swimming coach Ann Reynolds said: “It’s really well thought out and will give the town and surrounding areas an excellent facility for swimming. It’s perfect for the general public.
“Having the learner pool alongside the main one is a good idea as children who are learning will look at the other pool and think, ‘I want to take that next step’.”
*ONCE the Blackbrook pool opens, the outdated one in St James Street, where thousands of children have learned to swim over the years, will close.
The Station Road pool, currently undergoing a £1.2million refurbishment, will continue to operate.
It has been closed for six months and its re-opening, due last weekend, has been postponed because of what Taunton Deane Council called “unforeseen problems”.
An authority spokeswoman said some of the work was still “outstanding” and a handover date was being negotiated with the contractors.
Among the issues was a leaking overflow tank due to a wrongly positioned pipe, which can easily be rectified.
The spokeswoman added that the pool had not been emptied of water during the work as it was “not necessary and would have been a huge exercise”.