PLANS for the £9 million redevelopment of Five Acres have been revised to include space for a potential swimming pool.

The council has amended its initial designs for the new community and leisure facility at the former Gloucestershire College site after gathering the thoughts and ideas of stakeholders and the local community.

One of a number of changes made to the plans is the addition of a “Future Expansion Zone” which has been allocated as a potential site for a swimming pool, the lack of which in the initial plans proved unpopular with the community during consultation.

The council says that funding for the project, secured from the government’s Levelling Up Fund in October last year, would not have been forthcoming had they included a pool in the initial plans.

But council leader Tim Gwilliam recently assured residents that a swimming pool had always been part of their future ambitions for the site, and that while the £9 million cannot be used to pay for it, other avenues of funding are being explored.

In the last year, the council has invited stakeholders and the public to have their say on the plans at a number of consultation events, with a drop-in session and survey having recently been carried out by Gloucestershire Rural Community Council (GRCC) on the council’s behalf.

In the survey, 99 out of 182 respondants expressed their “disappointment” about the lack of a swimming pool.

A subsequent report from GRCC said the issue had also attracted the largest number of comments at the drop-in.

That led to the council revising the plans to include space for “additional facilities” to be delivered in future phases of the site’s redevelopment.

Deputy leader of the Forest Council and cabinet member for communities, Cllr Paul Hiett, said: “It has always been the aim of this council to deliver the best facilities at Five Acres and to return it to a site that can be used by people across the Forest of Dean.

“I’m really happy that through our in-person consultation events, online meetings with Five Acres High School and Facebook Live events we have taken on board thoughts and comments of the local community.

“We are working with the design consultants to design indoor and outdoor facilities we hope residents across the Forest can be truly proud of.

“Our engagement with stakeholders and communities has reaffirmed the wider ambitions we held for the site.

“To reflect this we are, as part of the planning application preparation, providing space with the potential for a pool to be added in future and we’ll be working hard with partners to secure the funding required.

“However, in order to gain Levelling Up Funding we needed to be sure that this site could be delivered on time and in a financially sustainable manner, something that would not have been possible if the cost of a pool had been factored into the first phase.  

“I’d like to thank all officers who have been involved in the Five Acres redevelopment so far and the residents of the Forest of Dean for getting involved and helping us to shape the best possible facilities at Five Acres.”

Other amendments to the plans include the relocation of a cycle hub to the front of the community sports hub to improve “visibility and security” for users.

Additionally, a children’s active play and soft landscaping area will be relocated from the site adjacent to the proposed sports hall and also positioned in front of the community sports hub, to “improve visibility for both users and spectators”.

The first phase of the redevelopment includes the refurbishment and extension of the existing Speedwell Building to provide community, leisure and business space, indoor and outdoor sports facilities and an outreach education centre for Hartpury University and College.

Further information about the project, along with updated artist’s impressions, can be found on the council’s website.