Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media | The extent to which the swimming pool development programme is expected to continue
To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the extent to which the swimming pool development programme is expected to continue; the basis on which it will continue over the next two years; the extent of the programme to date in dealing with the needs as represented by local communities throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
In relation to my Department’s capital funding for new swimming pools or the refurbishment of existing pools, this support was previously provided through the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme (LASPP). A total of 52 pools has been completed under the LASPP and three swimming pool projects (Lucan, Buncrana and Edenderry) remain in the programme with the Lucan project currently under construction.
My Department’s capital support for any new swimming pools is now being provided through the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF). The National Development Plan provided a capital allocation of at least €100 million for the Fund over the period to 2027.
The first call for proposals under the LSSIF closed in 2019 with applications confined to local authorities and National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of Sport. All applications were assessed in accordance with the published Evaluation Procedures and Guidelines and the first allocations were announced in January 2020. Thus far, approximately €86.4 million has been awarded to 33 different proposals. These initial allocations include funding for 8 swimming pool projects as follows:
- Laois: Portarlington Leisure Centre Swimming Pool [Allocation €300,000]
- Sligo: Waterpoint Aqua Park [Allocation €300,000]
- Kilkenny: The Watershed Development, [Allocation €1,443,750]
- Limerick: Askeaton Pool and Leisure [Allocation €646,659]
- Wicklow: Wicklow Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre [Allocation €864,177]
- Louth: Dundalk Leisure Centre [Allocation €300,000]
- Galway: Galway Regional Aquatic & Fitness Centre [Allocation €8,003,415]
- Dublin: Samuel Beckett Civic Campus Phase 2 [Allocation €5,000,000]
The priority in the short term is to advance all LSSIF projects, including these swimming pools, to construction stage.
In relation to future swimming pool funding, my Department is currently undertaking a review of progress on all existing LSSIF grants. As part of this review, my Department is also considering the timing of any new call for proposals. The review work is at an advanced stage and is expected to be finalised shortly.
In addition, the National Sports Policy commits to the development of a National Swimming Strategy. As part of this, there will be a review of swimming pool provision to identify where gaps exist and how these can be met. Furthermore, the Sports Action Plan 2021-2023, which was published in November 2021, contains an action to develop and implement a National Swimming Strategy to provide additional swimming opportunities indoors and outdoors. Initial preparatory planning work has been undertaken by my Department in this regard. It is intended to establish a working group in the near future to take forward the detailed work of preparing a national swimming strategy, with a view to its completion and publication later this year.
The outcome of these reviews and strategies will be fully considered when deciding on the future funding provision for swimming pools.
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